Secret and private organizations, in the form of Greek-letter organizations, mutual aid societies, and civic orders, together possess a storied and often-romanticized place in popular culture. While much has been made of these groups’ glamorous origins and influence—such as the Freemasons’ genesis in King Solomon’s temple or the belief in the Illuminati’s control of modern geo-politics—few have explicitly examined the role of race and ethnicity in organizing and perpetuating these cloistered orders. This volume directly addresses the inattention paid to the salience of race in secret societies. Through an examination of the Historically Black and White Fraternities and Sororities, the Ku Klux Klan in the US, the Ekpe and Abakuj secret societies of Africa and the West Indies, Gypsies in the United Kingdom, Black and White Temperance Lodges, and African American Order of the Elks, this book traces the use of racial and ethnic identity in these organizations.
This important contribution examines how such orders are both cause and consequence of colonization, segregation, and subjugation, as well as their varied roles as both catalysts and impediments to developing personal excellence, creating fictive kinship ties, and fostering racial uplift, nationalism, and cohesion.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Ethnic and Racial Studies.
Table of Contents
1. Chasing shadows: from the power elite to a new paradigm Matthew W. Hughey 2. The duality of spectacle and secrecy: a case study of fraternalism in the 1920s US Ku Klux Klan Kathleen Blee and Amy McDowell 3. Ékpè ‘leopard’ society in Africa and in the Americas: influence and values of an ancient tradition Ivor Miller and Mathew Ojong 4. ’Weak power’: community and identity Brian Belton 5. Black, Greek, and read all over: newspaper coverage of African American fraternities and sororities, 1980-2009 Matthew W. Hughey and Marcia Hernandez 6. Fraternity life at predominantly white universities in the US: the saliency of race Rashawn Ray 7. Why some black lodges prospered and others failed: the Good Templars and the True Reformers David M. Fahey 8. Ardent citizens: African American Elks and the fight for equal employment opportunities Venus Green
Matthew W. Hughey, PhD is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, USA.