Confederate Exceptionalism: Civil War Myth and Memory in the Twenty-First Century by Nicole Maurantonio
Along with Confederate flags, the men and women who recently gathered before the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts carried signs proclaiming “Heritage Not Hate.” Theirs, they said, was an “open and visible protest against those who attacked us, ours flags, our ancestors, or our Heritage.” hologies—the Lost Cause and American exceptionalism—blending their elements with discourses of racial neoliberalism to create a seeming separation between the Confederacy and racist systems. Incorporating several methods and drawing from a range of sources—including ethnographic observations, interviews, and archival documents—Maurantonio examines the various people, objects, and rituals that contribute to this cultural balancing act. Her investigation takes in “official” modes of remembering the Confederacy, such as the monuments and building names that drive the discussion today, but it also pays attention to the more mundane and often subtle ways in which the Confederacy is recalled. Linking the different modes of commemoration, her work bridges the distance that believers in Confederate exceptionalism maintain; while situated in history from the Civil War through the civil rights era, the book brings much-needed clarity to the constitution, persistence, and significance of this divisive myth in the context of our time.
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