Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Antoinette T. Jackson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Erin H. Kimmerle, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin A. Yelvington, D. Phil

Committee Member

Edward Kissi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Danny L. Jorgensen, Ph.D.


Christianity, collective apology, counter-memory, reform school


My study examines how religion operates as a form of social control in the politics of memory and memory making in the case of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys (1900-2011), a state reform school in Marianna, Florida. Collective memory making is a dynamic process that reflects the social, economic, and political tensions of the present. It is a process most evident during circumstances of reconciliation following conflict, violence, or cases of turmoil resulting in death and in conflicting memories of the experience. Emergence of a dominant narrative about the tragedy or traumatizing event and subjugation of conflicting stories and memories often follows. At this intersection, memory becomes a weapon or reflection of power.

Religion has been defined as operating as means of social control, particularly in the face of uncertainty, fear, and conflict. This study explores dynamics of power with respect to memorialization and ways in which religion informs the present and the past through processes of collective memory making. I also explore ways in which Christianity is employed as a means of bringing about reconciliation through public memory making and memorialization efforts as in the case of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys located in Marianna, Florida. In 2013, a team of anthropologists from the University of South Florida (USF) received approval from the State of Florida to investigate the location of missing children buried at Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. This research, known as the Boot Hill Burial Ground Project, resulted in the excavation of 55 burials. The Boot Hill Burial Ground Project is integral to the memorialization efforts and processes at Dozier as multiple stakeholders utilize the findings of the project for the construction of collective and public memories. The purpose of this study is to analyze tensions involved in processes of memory making resulting from the discovery, excavation, and identification of bodies at the Boot Hill Burial Ground on the Dozier campus and ways power is expressed within this process.