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Thomas Holmes

Research Student, Faculty of Arts

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Research Summary

Current Status

MRes (full-time) - currently registered

Research Topic

The Modern Confederacy in South Carolina: Confederate Historical Memory and White Identity from Centennial to Sesquicentennial

Research Summary

My current project focusses on the 50-year period between the American Civil War centennial observances (1961 - 1965) and the sesquicentennial anniversary of the war (2011 - 2015) in South Carolina. In particular, the project focusses on the idea of "historical memory" as a way through which to examine the formation of white identity. The American Civil War is a particularly strong and contentious site of collective memory, especially within the American South as evidenced in many recent controversies over Confederate symbols such as the Confederate battle flag and monuments to the Confederate military's leaders. Because of the Confederacy's links with slavery and the history of racial violence and segregation in the South more broadly, there is an ongoing public discourse surrounding the display of Confederate symbols as evoking white supremacy.

South Carolina is often seen as the first to raise a Confederate flag in a public space and the last to remove it. The litany of contestations over its public displays of Confederate symbols within the state can be seen as indicative of the battles for the dominant narrative of the intersections of race, memory and history in a state that has been historically conservative in its race relations. It is the purpose of this study to highlight both developments and continuations in what white South Carolinians remember (and forget) about the war, why they remember it, what effects this has on shaping their identities, and what broader social, political and economic factors contribute to the utilisation of Confederate memory by whites throughout this period.

Research Interests

-The American Civil War / The Long Civil War

-The Civil Rights Movement

-Contemporary Southern History

-Confederate Symbols

-Historical Memory and Memory Studies

-White Supremacy / Whiteness studies

-Identity Studies

Research Supervisors

Dr. Anthony Hutchison

Dr. Peter Ling

Primary Funding Source/s

Midlands3Cities Masters Studentship

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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