A Noble Fight examines the metaphors and meanings behind the African American appropriation of the culture, ritual, and institution of freemasonry in navigating the contested domain of American democracy. Combining cultural and political theory with extensive archival research—including the discovery of a rare collection of nineteenth-century records of an African American Freemason Lodge—Corey D. B. Walker provides an innovative perspective on American politics and society during the long transition from slavery to freedom. With great care and detail, Walker argues that African American freemasonry provides a critical theoretical lens for understanding the distinctive ways African Americans have constructed a radically democratic political imaginary through racial solidarity and political nationalism, forcing us to reconsider much more circumspectly the complex relationship between voluntary associations and democratic politics.| Preface: A Note on Freemasonry vii Acknowledgments ix Introduction: Secret Rites, Public Power I i. The Specter of Democracy 23 2. A Cartography of Democracy 45 3. Ritual and Revolution 86 4. A New Political Ideology 128 5. The Democratic Uses of Ritual and Secrecy r75 Epilogue: Race, Ritual, and the Struggle for Democracy in America 219 Notes 227 |
Corey D. B. Walker is an assistant professor in the department of Africana Studies at Brown University.