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Grounded Globalism

How the U.S. South Embraces the World

James L. Peacock

Publication Year: 2007

The world is flat? Maybe not, says this paradigm-shifting study of globalism's impact on a region legendarily resistant to change. The U.S. South, long defined in terms of its differences with the U.S. North, is moving out of this national and oppositional frame of reference into one that is more international and integrative. Likewise, as the South (home to UPS, CNN, KFC, and other international brands) goes global, people are emigrating there from countries like India, Mexico, and Vietnam--and becoming southerners. Much has been made of the demographic and economic aspects of this shift. Until now, though, no one has systematically shown what globalism means to the southern sense of self.

Anthropologist James L. Peacock looks at the South of both the present and the past to develop the idea of "grounded globalism," in which global forces and local cultures rooted in history, tradition, and place reverberate against each other in mutually sustaining and energizing ways. Peacock's focus is on a particular part of the world; however, his model is widely relevant: "Some kind of grounding in locale is necessary to human beings."

Grounded Globalism draws on perspectives from fields as diverse as ecology, anthropology, religion, and history to move us beyond the model, advanced by such scholars as C. Vann Woodward, that depicts the South as a region paralyzed by the burden of its past. Peacock notes that, while globalism may lift old burdens, it may at the same time impose new ones. He also maintains that earlier regional identities have not been replaced by the rootless cosmopolitanism of cyberspace or other abstracted systems. Attachments to place remain, even as worldwide markets erase boundaries and flatten out differences and distinctions among nations. Those attachments exert their own pressures back on globalism, says Peacock, with subtle strengths we should not discount.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: The New Southern Studies


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pp. ix-xii

In Grounded Globalism: How the U.S. South Embraces the World, I reflect on the U.S. South and southerners as they experience global forces today. I focus on attitudes, values, beliefs, and, ultimately, identities and meanings, asking how these are being shaped, how they are changing and abiding. The southern United States was not always the South: it formed ...

Part One. Orientation

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ONE. A Model

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pp. 3-13

On Memorial Day 2006, I take a taxi from Raleigh-Durham airport after flying in from Dothan, in South Alabama. The driver has a trainee with him. "Where are you guys from?" I ask. "Guess," answers the trainee. "Eritrea," I suggest, succeeding after two wrong tries. "Where's he from?" the trainee asks, referring to the driver. "Ethiopia," ...

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TWO. The South as/in the World

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pp. 14-44

James McBride Dabbs once wrote: "Of all the Americans, the Southerner is the most at home in the world. Or at least in the South, which, because of his very at-homeness, he is apt to confuse with the world." 1 Dabbs used the word "world" in the first sentence to refer to the southerner's immediate surroundings, as in "worldly," "of this world,' ...

Part Two. Trends

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THREE. From Oppositionality to Integration

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pp. 47-75

Dabbs, we recall, characterized southerners as at home in the world, which they think of as the South. It seems that southerners are now broadening their awareness of the world while retaining an identity with the region, and in so doing they are burying their sense of opposing the nation, especially the North. More frequent relations with the world ...

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FOUR. Dualism to Pluralism: Global Diversity on Southern Ground

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pp. 76-101

Global identity is expressed locally by diversity, or pluralism. In the American South, the impact of globally derived immigration and cultural influences has a special character. The South's complex history of diverse peoples and cultures—ranging from Native American groups of great variety and complexity to ethnically diverse migrants...

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FIVE. Southern Space: From Sense of Place to Force Field

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pp. 102-134

The phrase "sense of place" suggests the perception of a locale as more than just a physical space, as a territory but also as a psychological space, a place imbued with history and memory, community and experience. In short, "space" becomes "place." The South, it is said, has a sense of place. As Roy Blount Jr. put it, "the South is a place," and, he ...

Part Three. Meaning and Action

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SIX. Meaning: Religion in the Global South

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pp. 137-155

Time, place, preservation, tourism, memory, spirituality, horror movies and Halloween, retirement homes, commemorations, reenactments, community legends, Sigmund Freud and William Faulkner, funerals, cemeteries, monuments: the members of this list share a focus on the past. "The past is not past," proclaimed both Faulkner and Freud. ...

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SEVEN. Subjectivities: Meaning Making in the Changing South

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pp. 156-183

Subjective experience is the subject of this chapter, expressed in such areas as dreams, spiritualism, and the arts. How do such expressions reflect global influences? Does globalism penetrate only economics, politics, and public spheres, such as commemorations of race relations, institutional worship, and architecture and city planning? Or do global ...

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EIGHT. Politics: Is Globalism Liberal? Is a Local Focus Conservative?

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pp. 184-219

Asserting that the South is orienting itself around the global brings to mind two assumptions we often take as givens: that the South as a region is a bastion of conservatism and that to orient around the global means to become more liberal. We need to examine these assumptions in light of the actual contours of the globalizing South. Obviously, given the ...

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pp. 220-258

What might we conclude? We might conclude that the South has changed importantly in recent years, that it is changing still, and that globalization—that is, interconnection with the world—is an important part of that change. Specifically, a pillar of southern identity—a sense of opposition to the nation—is being transformed to the extent ...


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pp. 259-278


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pp. 279-294


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pp. 295-311

E-ISBN-13: 9780820341569
E-ISBN-10: 0820341568
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820328683
Print-ISBN-10: 0820328685

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: The New Southern Studies
Series Editor Byline: Jon Smith and Riché Richardson, Series Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 724046000
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Grounded Globalism

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Southern States -- Civilization -- 21st century.
  • Political culture -- Southern States.
  • Arts and society -- Southern States.
  • Southern States -- Religion.
  • Regionalism -- Southern States.
  • Cultural pluralism -- Southern States.
  • Group identity -- Southern States.
  • Globalization -- Social aspects -- Southern States.
  • Cosmopolitanism -- Southern States.
  • Southern States -- Civilization.
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