In 2009, the city council of Stevenson, Alabama wasn’t happy when James Davis, in an act to honor his wife’s dying wish, buried her in the front yard of his house on Broad Street. Though Stevenson had no ordinance against burials on private property, the city nevertheless sued James. The emotionally charged legal battle resulted in a court order to exhume the body. In protest, James literally spelled out the whole ordeal by nailing large signs to the front of his log cabin house. Seven years later, Mrs. Davis’ cremated remains now reside in an urn in James’ living room. Outside, though, the headstone, the flowers, and the small mementos still look as they did on the day he first laid her to rest. James’ life mission is to find justice and legally return his wife to her rightful resting place in the yard.
Stevenson, Alabama offers us a glimpse into small towns across America. An old railroad depot dating back to the Civil War, Stevenson has been declining in population since its heyday of the 1950s. Its citizens voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, hoping for a return to an era where globalization didn’t appear in the dictionary and a high school diploma was enough to land a good job. Like most folks in town, James Davis is religiously conservative and a proud owner of multiple firearms, which are kept loaded throughout the house. His frustration and mistrust of what he sees as a corrupt and ineffective local government mirrors a general feeling in much of the state that politicians don’t care about blue collar and farming communities.
What may appear as quirky defiance by James is a rather extreme example of the proud individualism and fierce territorialism persisting in small town America. For anyone searching to understand how a crass populist with no political experience could be elected President of the United States, this group of photos offers a glimpse into the world where Trump voters turned out in surprising numbers.
Mark Cáceres was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and moved to the Southeast of the United States with his family at the age of six. His interest in photography began while he was studying anthropology at Emory University. As an individual with cultural roots outside of the United States, he has always been fascinated by the wide range of cultures both in the U.S. and abroad. As a result, his photography seeks to pose questions about the common threads as well as the unique aspects of different cultures. Mark resides in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and daughter.