Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Derek Alderman

Committee Members

Solange Muñoz, Stefanie Benjamin, Michelle Christian


The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, of right-wing populism, and incidences of white supremacist domestic terrorism associated with the presence of Confederate iconography since 2015 in the United States has brought much attention to the issue of Confederate memory. According to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, as of 2018, only eight percent of graduating high school seniors can correctly identify slavery as the primary cause of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865). This speaks to a crisis of memory and identity around what the Confederate States of America (CSA) were and how we should remember the Confederacy today.Yet, for all the scholarly work that has been done to understand the politics of Confederate memory in the United States, especially in the South, little known is the fact that thousands of Confederate soldiers and their families migrated to Brazil in light of the devastation of the war and the potential incorporation of formerly enslaved people into American society and politics associated with Reconstruction. Today, Confederate descendants in the interior of São Paulo, Brazil still celebrate their heritage with an annual festival called the Festa Confederada. A museum on the town square, too, narrates the Confederate migration from the perspective of descendants. The purpose of this dissertation is to broaden academic and public perspective on the Confederacy by exploring the transnational contours of commemoration at these sites of Confederate memory.This research is situated at the intersection of scholarly work in cultural-historical geography on the relationship between public memory, race and racism, heritage tourism, settler colonialism, Black Geographies, and regional identity. This dissertation advances understandings of public memory as socially constructed and negotiated by social groups competing over rights and recognition on the memorial landscape. Further, it examines how Confederate memory moves and takes shape across international boundaries and cross-culturally, and comes to resonate and make sense outside its traditional place of public memory in the American South. Finally, this dissertation offers sustained reflection on the challenges of working on issues of race in the Global South as a white male “gringo” American.


Portions of this document were previously published in the journal FOCUS on Geography and have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Cultural Geography and the Journal of Heritage Tourism.

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