The Political Imaginary and the Heart of Dixie
Publication Year: 2010
In Alabama Getaway Allen Tullos explores the recent history of one of the nation’s most conservative states to reveal its political imaginary—the public shape of power, popular imagery, and individual opportunity.
From Alabama’s largely ineffectual politicians to its miserly support of education, health care, cultural institutions, and social services, Tullos examines why the state appears to be stuck in repetitive loops of uneven development and debilitating habits of judgment. The state remains tied to fundamentalisms of religion, race, gender, winner-take-all economics, and militarism enforced by punitive and defensive responses to criticism. Tullos traces the spectral legacy of George Wallace, ponders the roots of anti-egalitarian political institutions and tax structures, and challenges Birmingham native Condoleezza Rice’s use of the civil rights struggle to justify the war in Iraq. He also gives due coverage to the state’s black citizens who with a minority of whites have sustained a movement for social justice and democratic inclusion. As Alabama competes for cultural tourism and global industries like auto manufacturing and biomedical research, Alabama Getaway asks if the coming years will see a transformation of the “Heart of Dixie.”
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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This book has its origins in my Alabama childhood and education, and the writing of it has been the work of many years. Conversations with dozens of people contributed to its making, and both Emory University and the National Endowment for the Humanities provided me with valuable fellowships and sabbatical time to support my research and writing. I have relied not only...
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What makes Alabama Alabama? As for its political imaginary — the public shape of power, representation, and possibility that is the subject of Alabama Getaway — how is the state perceived? Is Alabama seen as encased in social amber like an ancient insect, stuck in repetitive loops of uneven development, rife with ol' boy prejudices and...
PART ONE: Habits of Judgment
CHAPTER ONE: The Sez-you State
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It's easy to make fun of a place where you can find To Kill a Mockingbird on the library's how-to shelves. Across the years, Alabama dependably delivers headlines and punch lines that fade into the next boldfaced outrage or televised fiasco. A reputation so constructed out of historical predicaments becomes easier to sustain than dismantle. Humiliations...
CHAPTER TWO: The Punitive Habit
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Shadowing Alabama's political imaginary is what Avery Gordon calls the "fundamental sociality of haunting," the proposition that "we are haunted by worldly contacts" that we'd rather step around or over than acknowledge. The punitive habit wears blinders, dismisses criticism along with dissident signs and conflicting evidence embodied by the
PART TWO: Public Figures of Speech
CHAPTER THREE: In the Ditch with Wallace
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"I love it here," an Alabamian told British journalist Gary Younge during one of the trumped-up crises in which a governor, this time Fob James, threatened to call out the state troopers and the National Guard to fight a federal judge's ruling. "But when I think that people will look at that idiot and think that he represents us I just want to move."1 Stretching...
CHAPTER FOUR: Oafs of Office
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In January 1987, as the administration of Elder Guy Hunt began, Circuit Judge Charles Price, an African American Democrat appointed during the final Wallace term, considered the new makeup of the state's executive and legislative branches: "They're all in bed together. The Democratic Legislature now is controlled by the Business Council and...
CHAPTER FIVE: The One-trick Pony and the Man on the Horse
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The University of Alabama's fraternity and sorority mansions are planted along Old Row and Magnolia Drive in Tuscaloosa, on a campus that "looks like a museum of plantation houses," wrote faculty member Diane Roberts following the election of Don Siegelman in 1998. "Most of the buildings boast white columns, tall windows and satiny...
PART THREE: Stakes in the Heart of Dixie
CHAPTER SIX: Black Alabamas
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Across the years, strategies and strengths shifting with the possibilities for protest and change, the Black Alabama invoked by Selma's first African American lawyer, J. L. Chestnut (1930–2008), has challenged state and local white regimes. For the Chestnut-minded, Black Alabama represents an activist polity attempting to perpetrate democracy...
CHAPTER SEVEN: Baghdad as Birmingham
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Not even Bear Bryant, perhaps because he walked on water, could boast of a million-barrel crude tanker with his name on it. But from the mid-1990s until early 2001, the double-hulled Condoleezza Rice floated on a rising tide that lifted some boats far more than others. Its youthful namesake, fresh from service on George H. W. Bush's National Security...
CHAPTER EIGHT: Invasions of Normalcy
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Across recent decades, growing numbers of Alabamians have ratcheted up their critiques of the Heart of Dixie. Their raids on normalcy have taken many forms, from gender and disability-discrimination litigation, to challenging inequities in the state's tax structure and the funding of education, to creating a National Voting Rights Trail and confronting the...
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The sound of Sez-you massed, revved, and capitalized? That would be more than 150,000 NASCAR fans and some four-dozen candy-colored stock cars inside the Talladega Superspeedway at summer's end. Is this, as a New York Times writer claimed, a space for "the opposite of politics"?1 Or are race weekends the Heart of Dixie's last pit...
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Page Count: 380
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Politics and Culture in the Twentieth-Century South