Traces the development of Catholic cultures in the South, the Midwest, the West, and the Northeast, and their contribution to larger patterns of Catholicism in the United States
Most histories of American Catholicism take a national focus, leading to a homogenization of American Catholicism that misses much of the local complexity that has marked how Catholicism developed differently in different parts of the country. Such histories often treat northeastern Catholicism, such as the Irish Catholicism of Boston, as if it reflects the full history and experience of Catholicism across the United States. The Making of American Catholicism argues that regional and transnational relationships have been central to the development of American Catholicism. The American Catholic experience has diverged significantly among regions; if we do not examine how it has taken shape in local cultures, we miss a lot. Exploring the history of Catholic cultures in New Orleans, Iowa, Wisconsin, Los Angeles, and New York City, the volume assesses the role of region in American Catholic history, carefully exploring the development of American Catholic cultures across the continental United States.
Drawing on extensive archival research, The Making of American Catholicism argues that American Catholicism developed as transnational Catholics creatively adapted their devotional and ideological practices in particular American regional contexts. They emphasized notions of republicanism, individualistic capitalism, race, ethnicity, and gender, resulting in a unique form of Catholicism that dominates the United States today. The book offers close attention to race and racism in American Catholicism, including the historical experiences of African American and Latinx Catholics as well as Catholics of European descent.
Michael J. Pfeifer is Professor of History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the CUNY Graduate Center. His books include Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874–1947, and The Roots of Rough Justice: Origins of American Lynching.
"This well-researched book offers a compelling argument for the importance of regional, transnational, and local realities in understanding the history of U.S. Catholicism."
~Steven M. Avella, Marquette University
"An insightfully transnational study that assesses how factors such as the colonial legacies of French and Hispanic Catholic settlers, the homelands of European immigrants, and the international cult of Marian apparitions shaped Catholic communities that rooted themselves in particular times and places."
~Timothy Matovina, author of Theologies of Guadalupe: From the Era of Conquest to Pope Francis
"Pfeifer’s work shifts the focus from the traditional centers of the Northeast and industrial urban Midwest to places like New Orleans, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. In the process, Catholics of different ethnicities, race, and transnational ties assume new significance. Even New York's Hell Kitchen Catholicism gains fresh treatment in Pfeifer's rendering. An important book that advances the most exciting contemporary currents in the study of Catholics in the US."
~Anthony B. Smith, The University of Dayton
"From New Orleans to Iowa City and from rural Wisconsin to urban California, Michael Pfeifer asks us to think about the local particularities of the American Catholic experience. He shows us how the development of regional cultures played a crucial role in shaping the lives of Catholics from the colonial period to the present."
~Michael Pasquier, author of Religion in America: The Basics
"A timely and important book. Pfeifer is an excellent, evocative writer, providing us with a treasure trove of fascinating details of twentieth century lived Catholicism, all the while showing the dynamic blend of transnationalism, regionalism, and nationalism that informs American Catholic identities. A must-read for anyone interested in American religious history."
~Kristy Nabhan-Warren, The University of Iowa
"Michael J. Pfeifer’s The Making of American Catholicism: Regional Culture and the Catholic Experience is a fascinating exploration of the intersection of place, culture, time, and identity. In date- and place-bound situations, he surveys themes of contemporary concern (globally, but especially in the United States). Pfeifer’s skill in making connections across seemingly disparate places and events prompts the reader to extend the insights beyond the representative areas specifically addressed in the book."
"Lucidly written Pfeifer’s book will be a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate students, and researchers in religion, politics, and the sociology of the Catholic church in the United States."
~Christopher J. Akor, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Religion Book Reviews