Download Lynching and spectacle: witnessing racial violence in by Amy Louise Wood PDF

By Amy Louise Wood

Lynch mobs in past due 19th- and early twentieth-century the USA frequently exacted frightening public torture and mutilation on their sufferers. In Lynching and Spectacle, Amy wooden explains what it intended for white american citizens to accomplish and witness those sadistic spectacles and what they derived from them. Lynching, wooden argues, overlapped with a variety of cultural practices and performances, either conventional and sleek, together with public executions, non secular rituals, images, and cinema. The connections among lynching and those practices inspired the bad violence dedicated and gave it social acceptability. wooden expounds at the severe position lynching spectacles performed in setting up and asserting white supremacy on the flip of the century, rather in cities and towns experiencing nice social instability and alter. She additionally indicates how the nationwide dissemination of lynching photos fueled the momentum of the antilynching stream and eventually resulted in the decline of lynching. via analyzing lynching spectacles along either conventional and smooth practices and inside either neighborhood and nationwide contexts, wooden reconfigures our realizing of lynching's courting to fashionable lifestyles.

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Extra info for Lynching and spectacle: witnessing racial violence in America, 1890-1940

Sample text

Sheriff Tilley of Waco, Texas, attempted in vain to have Jesse Washington hanged privately, a decision he announced days beforehand; he enclosed the gallows, which previously stood “in plain view of the public,” and permitted “only a few people . . ” But a crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 people arrived to witness the execution and promptly 41 PUBLIC EXECUTIONS sity in age, gender, and class, reports invariably figured the white crowd as a unit, sharing the same outrage at and condemnation of black criminality.

Despite the festive mood at so many executions, local news accounts often emphasized that the crowds at public hangings were unexpectedly respectful and well behaved. These reports were written defensively, since opponents of public executions were quick to criticize the rowdy atmosphere at these events. For these critics, the “holiday” atmosphere stood as evidence of the barbaric and perverse nature of public hangings and only confirmed their suspicions that public hangings fostered social disorder and violent impulses.

The act of witnessing the execution, in this regard, included being physically near the scene of the action and among a crowd of like-minded people. To witness a hanging was also to hear the proceedings and perhaps the cries of the condemned, and to feel the push of the crowd, to sense that one was a part of something important or extraordinary. For some, surely the experience lay in being part of the crowd, amid the excitement, with the possibility of catching a glimpse of the execution. 1 Hanging-day crowd at the execution of Henry Campbell (standing center in black suit), Lawrenceville, Georgia, May 1908.

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