Elesha Coffman, Baylor University | Newberry

Elesha Coffman, Baylor University

Friday, September 17, 2021

3-5 pm CDT

Virtual seminar, register for link

Religion and Culture in the Americas Seminar

Margaret Mead vs Christian Nationalism, Elesha Coffman, Baylor University

The famous anthropologist Margaret Mead was alarmed by news of a “Spiritual Defense Parade” planned for October 1941, so she asked a fellow social scientist, her mother, to investigate. This quirky episode in American religious history merits attention for three reasons. One, the investigation offers a snapshot of American Protestantism before postwar restructuring. Two, Mead’s alarm opens a window on religious concerns within wartime anthropology, an understudied topic. Three, since January 6, 2021, many Americans have posited that Christian nationalism poses a grave threat to the social order, while civil religion offers resources for healing the breach. A look back at the early 1940s demonstrates how hard it is to disentangle those modes of public religiosity.

Respondent: Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, University of Wisconsin

Cost and Registration Information 

This event is free, but all participants must register in advance and space is limited. To register and request a copy of the pre-circulated paper, click here. Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.