W&L Visiting Assistant Professor John Cataldi Publishes Book “Practical Symbolic Interactions in the Shrine of the South: Conversations with a Damn Yankee” is set to be released on Jan. 15.
John Cataldi, visiting assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Washington and Lee University, has published a new book that will hit bookshelves on Jan. 15.
The book, “Practical Symbolic Interactions in the Shrine of the South: Conversations with a Damn Yankee,” dives into the community sentiments toward Southern symbols, noting that reactions are not necessarily tied to a racial divide.
According to the book’s abstract, Cataldi uses data to demonstrate that most black and white respondents navigate a social balance between the extremes of conservation and progress to coexist and unify as a community rather than cause division based on symbolic ideology. Cataldi’s findings challenge the conventional sociological and media-provided paradigms and broaden the discussion of what tolerance and situational context mean for the community members who live among Confederate symbols every day.
“In these times of great social division, this study provides evidence gathered from the silent majority about social tolerance,” said Cataldi. “Most black and white Lexington-Rockbridge respondents assess others via Acta non Verba (deeds not words) rather than by ideological posture (Verba non Acta). These forbearing folks sought ways to find common ground with each other through pleasant and productive interaction. They were trying to be, and were assessing others, simply by the standards of what constitutes ‘good people’ in their actions and interactions, regardless of their associations with Confederate symbols or ideological differences.”
Cataldi also authored an article in 2019 titled “The Commons: Separating Tragedy and Triumph at a City Park” in the sociological journal City & Community.
Cataldi began teaching at W&L in 2021 after earning his Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in nautical science from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, and a pair of master’s degrees — one in criminal justice administration from Loyola University, New Orleans, and another in social sciences from the University of Chicago.
Cataldi is retired FBI, assistant special agent in charge from the Kansas City office. Previously, he served as a Kings Point midshipman in the U.S. Naval Reserve and active duty in the U.S. Army. During his final tour with the Army, he was an A-Team leader for the 5th Special Forces (Airborne). His tours of duty in the government and military have taken him to East Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq.
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