The American Folklore Society’s Folk Belief and Religious Folklife Section awarded Cade Williams, an A.B. candidate in Anthropology and Folklore and Mythology at Harvard College, the 2021 William A. Wilson prize for the best undergraduate student paper in Religious folklife and folk belief. The award was presented at the AFS Annual Meeting in October.
His paper “Christ of the Confederacy: A Case Study of Romantic Nationalism and Contradiction in Folk Religious Discourse” was originally written as a final paper for Dr. Lowell Brower’s seminar “The Folklore of Emergency.” According to Williams, the paper provides a methodological framework for the study of fundamentalist folk-religious movements, which often mobilize contradictory beliefs and discourses in the construction of their worldviews and the pursuit of their political goals. Alongside claims to sacred truth or moral righteousness, discursive contradictions often lie at the heart of folk-religious discourse. The study concludes with an implementation of the outlined methodological framework, examining a case study of the online folk religious discourse of a Neo-Confederate group based in the Southern United States.
Williams’ research is focused on the intersections between romantic nationalist political movements, religious belief, and kinship. He plans to use the research conducted for this paper as the foundation for his ethnographic senior thesis on a similar topic.
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