Don't fail to see this": Race, leisure, and the transformation of lynching in Texas /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Scott, Terry Anne, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (324 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Hidden Bibliographic Details
Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Thomas C. Holt Committee members: Kenneth M. Hamilton; Julie Saville.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:This study addresses persistent questions about why lynching assumed a particular character by the end of the late nineteenth century, one marked by the racialization of mob violence and its transformation from "quiet violence" to acts defined largely by spectacle, consumerism, and fanfare. By the end of the nineteenth century, whites in Texas broadened the social implications of lynching from punitive, with an emphasis on the victim rather than the crowd, to recreational, in which the crowd's spectatorship and enjoyment became integral to and simultaneously produced the spectacle created, the methods of torture employed, the images preserved and disseminated, and the commodities produced and collected. This study answers lingering questions about why such transformations occurred. These altered lynching practices and connotations reveal broader changes in race relations and the concept of criminality in Texas during the late nineteenth century, as well as vicissitudes in work rhythms and correlated shifts in applied modes of social control. Transformations rooted largely in rural to urban migration, urbanization, mechanization, racialized delinquency, and mass consumption fundamentally altered the value and rationale of lynching and transfigured the exhibition of the act. Always an extemporaneous form of social justice, the new lynching narrative of the late nineteenth century---one characterized largely by race, spectacle, consumption, recreation and modernity---was a visual exhibit of a sociopolitical reordering and economic transformation intrinsic to post-emancipation Texas. It was a response not simply to racist attitudes and suspicions, but also modifications to everyday life in the wake of increasingly non-agrarian labor arrangements. The new lynching narrative emerged as a result of social and economic transformations in post-Reconstruction Texas. The collective, unlawful mob that had long been part of southern and Texas mores gained a new inflection with the intensified 'othering' of black people through varied forms of denigration and popular entertainment by the end of the nineteenth century.
This is a study about how reactions against black freedom expressions, socially constructed notions about black misconduct, misrepresentations of blacks in material and popular culture, and labor adjustments ushered in by industrial capitalism and the attendant effects of black migration significantly transformed mob violence. What is most striking about how postbellum racial anxiety and hatred were manifested, however, is the extent to which they were linked to and expressed through a language and performance of leisure and how the lynching event was marked as a moment of leisure-time. As such, this is also a study about how individuals' choices of leisure are a reflection of social, economic, and political phenomena and anxieties of a particular historical moment. People now spent their non-working and working hours differently, shaped by an urbanizing, non-agrarian environment. Hence was born a complex relationship between race, labor, industry, violence, and recreation, facilitating fundamental changes in the character of lynching from what had been true just a few decades earlier. The timing and meaning of leisure was affected by demographic, spatial, and technological changes, opening a new space for the practice of lynching in which leisure shaped the character of southern lynching just as southern lynching shaped the character of its leisure. In short, given that social evolution, white Texans carved a new form of leisure from acts of incredible racial violence.