Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness

Product Details
Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.3 X 1.3 inches | 1.36 pounds

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About the Author
W. Paul Reeve is Associate Professor of History at the University of Utah. He is the author of Making Space on the Western Frontier: Mormons, Miners, and Southern Paiutes and the co-editor of Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia and Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore.

"a timely and provocative account [...] This study is a welcome contribution to a number of fields[...] Students of American religious history will also find much to learn from this study as it joins the growing body of literature that serves to blur distinctions between religious and racial othering and reveals the complex interplay between religion and race in American history." -- Kelsey Moss, Princeton University, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

"Cleverly framed....Reeve's book is a landmark in Mormon studies. For non-Mormon and Mormon audiences alike, it offers answers to the long-vexing questions of the when, where, who, and why of the origins of what is colloquially called the 'priesthood ban.' And Reeve's book adds Mormons to the well-established historiography on how ethnic and cultural minorities in America became white. Reeve's book is now the definitive history on Mormonism and race."--Max Perry Mueller, The Journal of Religion

"Overall, Reeve's book is a tremendous step forward in studies of Mormonism, race, and racialization, and indeed of race in American history more broadly. By examining a spectrum of groups, Reeve creates an unprecedentedly fleshed-out picture of these racial processes."--Alexandra Griffin, Reading Religion

"Fascinating, deeply researched, intricately argued, and wonderfully illustrated. This will be the definitive work on race and Mormonism from the religion's origins to the early twentieth century, with a postscript carrying the story forward through the twentieth century down to Mitt Romney."--Paul Harvey, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"Reeve goes beyond the more traditional narrative of Mormons' views of racial minorities (especially blacks and Native Americans) to consider how those racial beliefs were constructed as a dialectic alongside the racialization of Mormons by non-LDS outsiders, particularly in the nineteenth century. In its sophisticated conversation with whiteness theory and the history of American race relations, Reeve's book is innovative and theoretically ambitious "--BYU Studies Quarterly

"Religion of a Different Color should stand as an exceptional and transformative study of race and American religion. It is a rich and unique contribution to scholarship on Mormon religion that is equally a well-crafted study of race. It should certainly serve to inspire intellectually generative debate and further research on the constitution of racial whiteness for many years to come."--Mormon Studies Review

"Religion of a Different Color is a true historical tour de force. It instantly joins the elite ranks of the Mormon studies canon, becoming required reading for anyone interested in the Mormon past (or present). The book's utility goes far beyond Mormon studies, however, as it should also be consulted by scholars of whiteness and American race relations as an expert analysis of how religion impacted and was impacted by the national discourse about race."--BYU Studies Review

"Reeve's book...will probably go down as one of the most important books in Mormon historiography."--Juvenile Instructor

"In this revealing study, Paul Reeve puts the subject of Mormon racialization in a new light. Mormons racialized others, to be sure, but were in turn racialized themselves. In the nineteenth century critics denigrated Mormons by seeing them as racially a between-people, near-Black, friendly to Indians, and likely allies of the yellow hordes. The church's compensating rush to whiteness, unfortunately, went too far. Now Mormons are seen as too white, obscuring their innate inclination to universalism. No one has told this excruciating story so well as Reeve."--Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

"Compelling as a set of incredible, revealing stories as well as nuanced analysis, this study places Mormonism within varied worlds of race in a way unequalled by any denominational history of religion and white racism. Reeve's work represents a breakthrough in Mormon history, religious history, and history of the West, as well as in the study of race relations."--David Roediger, author of Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All

"Religion of a Different Color plows truly new and important ground in explaining the fuller story of Mormonism's place in the long American struggle with racial bigotry, as well as the uses of racialist thinking in U.S. history more generally. Previous studies have tried to explain the traditional racial teachings of Mormonism mainly by reference to doctrines and developments inside the Church. This new study instead analyzes the heavily racialized context of the entire nation, in which Mormons became both victims and perpetrators of racist policies and practices."--Armand L. Mauss, author of All Abraham's Children: Changing Mormons Conceptions of Race and Lineage

"With prodigious research and a keen eye for detail, context, and irony, Paul Reeve masterfully guides us through the fickleness and combustibility of nineteenth-century American racial discourse, with Mormons as his unlikely subjects. In the process of fighting off swarms of accusations that they were not white enough, Mormons reified whiteness as the sine qua non of American respectability. Religion of a Different Color provides a powerful new lens that helps us better understand how and why race remains such a troubled legacy for both America and 'the American religion.'"--Patrick Q. Mason, Claremont Graduate University

"A widely researched, soundly documented, challenging addition to whiteness studies and to scholarly literature on race generally."--CHOICE

"Thoroughly researched, clearly written, and surprising, Reeve's work is the new starting piece for discussions of Mormons and race."--Western Historical Quarterly

"The argumentative thread is rich and complex; my summary here hardly captures the subtlety and detail of the discussion. Fortunately, Reeve has a gift for short, targeted sentences and summary paragraphs that make his major points with crystalline clarity. That knack for pinpoint summaries helps the reader navigate through a text full of quotation, illustration, and sometimes dense textual analysis of Mormon writings."--The Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"In the shadow of Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Baltimore, and countless other recent racial controversies, W. Paul Reeve's book is a timely study of how humans racialize other humans and deny communities the right to construct their own identity. Its bold, fresh take far exceeds any minor quibbles I might try and summon in false pursuit of a balanced review. It is nothing short of marvelous, and it has my highest recommendation. It will shape how we think about Mormonism and racial identity for decades."--Journal of Mormon History