Speak so you can speak again: Renunciation as Resistance--
On Mother Catherine Seals and the Temple of Innocent Blood
A Job Talk by Jean Mills, John Jay College/CUNY
By focusing on renunciation and its role in wielding and distributing power, Jean Mills brings a more neglected figure, 20th century New Orleans spiritualist Mother Catherine Seals and her auto-constructed site, the Temple of Innocent Blood, into conversations on peace and peacebuilding, in a bid to theorize a relationship between modernism, feminism, and the formal discipline of Peace Studies. Famously portrayed by Zora Neale Hurston in Nancy Cunard's Negro anthology (1934) and later in Mules and Men (1935) (and more recently the subject of an urban archaeological excavation sponsored by New Orleans University), Mother Catherine Seals and her Temple of Innocent Blood provide us with a striking example of an integrated space and social world that defied racist and dominant domestic ideologies, while raising important questions about how we remember, practice, and envision peace.