Walker Peterson, “A Non-Place Identity and a Fixed (Sacred) Text”

December 19, 2012

Walker Peterson, Heather.  2012.  A Non-Place Identity and a Fixed (Sacred) Text: Literacy Practices Shaping Identity/ies of a Slavic Baptist Congregation from the Former Soviet Union to the United States.  Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 12(3): 450–465.

Abstract: Based on an interdisciplinary linguistic ethnography, I apply the term ‘non-place’ to the collective identity of a Slavic migrant congregation in the United States. Those members socialised into their faith before migration had already been marginalised in their resistance to the former national Soviet identity. The New Literacy Studies in particular help to describe their historic Protestant literacy practices regarding a sacred, and thus fixed, text. A fixed sacred text provided the freedom to interpret the group’s context, a perceived narrative to join, and authority for leadership to dictate a way of life. Events around text were warm and welcoming, utilising Western texts for legitimatised scripture interpretation, and accessible to both Russian speakers and second-generation English speakers. With the assumed permanence of a sacred text, new believers retold their own narratives as part of the scriptural one, and had a ‘home land’ they had never stepped foot in.

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