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Parades and Processions: Protestant and Catholic Ritual Performances in a Nuevo New South Town

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Since the early 1990s, the American South has changed drastically and Siler City, North Carolina reflects those changes. Like larger southern cities, Siler City has received a significant number of migrants from Latin America in a short amount of time. New migrants, many but not all of them Roman Catholic, bring diverse sets of ethnic, cultural, and religious practices to a town traditionally dominated by Baptists and Methodists. One of the most visible examples of local religious disruption in Siler City has been the public display of Good Friday processions by Latino Catholics. That performance signified the presence of new migrants in downtown space. White Protestants, in turn, drew on the long standing ritual tradition of downtown Fourth of July parades to reassert their presence in that same space. Annually performed since 1901, the parades revealed a moral order based on the logic of southern Christian sacrifice. And the vitality of downtown parades indicated the political strength of white Protestants to maintain established order. That strength diminished with the local economic decline of downtown businesses in the 1980s and was challenged by the arrival of Latino migrants in the 1990s. The parades ended in 1988 but were renewed in 1997, the year following the first Good Friday procession in city streets. In the revitalized parade, white Protestants expressed nostalgia for a southern way of life and publicly remembered a time and place — downtown Siler City — before economic decline and Latino arrival.


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Affiliations: 1: Division of Humanities, New College of Florida, 5800 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34243-2109, USA;, Email:


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