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October 17 "Coffee Hour" presentation

On Wednesday, October 17, Keith Mayes will present "'To Put Down Crazy Cracker Celebrations': Toward a Theory of Black Holidays and the Logic of Holiday Placement and Calendar Protest" from 2-3:30 in the Geneva H. Southall Library (Social Sciences Tower 815). [Presentation Abstract]

Mayes will examine the black attempt to de-center white holidays from the American calendar and create a distinctly African American one. His talk will explore the politics of calendar space and how African-Americans attempted to perennialize their struggle. Holidays and the calendar that annually present them to the public are not solely times of leisure and celebration, of gaiety and frivolity. Holidays are political, and the calendar represents a site of struggle, of contestation and defeat, sometimes victory and triumph. Hence, the American calendar is worth exploring. Deconstructing the calendar allows us to enlarge our understanding of the spatial arrangements of social movements, to take our eye off of the street, the legislature, and the judiciary for a moment and to discover other "spaces" of political activity. If we understand the calendar not as a series of days but as spaces to be filled up and occupied by groups in society, then the calendar takes on new meaning. Days on the calendar are manifestations of power; they represent a form of cultural and community property. Claimants to the calendar have been both dominant and subordinate groups who have "filled up," or to use a more apt term, "politicized" the calendar through the creation of their holidays. Though the holidays of subordinate groups have been initiated, developed, and in many cases, sustained throughout the years, the acceptance of some holidays and the rejection of others speak to who really owns and controls calendar space in American life and culture.