Gerald M. Sider is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, and the author of
This chapter discusses terror, hope, and changing identities as they are reshaped by the changing physical, economic, and political geography of the coastal Carolinas, and as they organized and reorganized electoral struggles in the early years of the civil rights movements.
Starting with the deeply problematic concept of “culture,” this chapter explores the mechanical cotton picker, NAFTA, the changing production of the victims of the agrarian South’s labor demands, and the muscle put on voting. On this basis the legal town and the apparent town of Maxton are described, focusing on swamps and the changing availability of drinkable water. Current African American control of this formerly majority-White town is described in the context of a severely declining local economy. The concluding section looks at very different Native American and African American congregational responses to a member being “saved,” in order to open a discussion of what can and cannot be understood.