The American Parade: Representations of the Nineteenth-Century Social Order

Mary Ryan

in The New Cultural History

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 1989 | ISBN: 9780520064287
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520908925 | DOI:
The American Parade: Representations of the Nineteenth-Century Social Order

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This chapter shows how critical a historical understanding of ritual can be by demonstrating how parading changed in function over time. It also discusses the role of gender in these constructions of civic identity. It then reveals that gender was one of the most critical lines of differentiation in culture and society. The parade constitutes the public, ceremonial language whereby nineteenth-century Americans made order out of an urban universe that teemed with diversity and change. The American parades of 1825 to 1880 document the development of such concepts as class, ethnicity, and gender, all in forms that were legible to contemporaries. The parade was an exercise in self-discipline as well as social discipline. Parades continue to this day, providing a ceremonial method of forging and asserting the diverse social identities that compose American culture.

Keywords: American parades; civic identity; gender; American culture; social identities; class; ethnicity

Chapter.  8249 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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