Lynching: American Mob Murder in Global Perspective

Lynching: American Mob Murder in Global Perspective

Lynching: American Mob Murder in Global Perspective

Lynching: American Mob Murder in Global Perspective

Synopsis

Addressing one of the most controversial and emotive issues of American history, this book presents a thorough re-examination of the background, dynamics and decline of American lynching. It argues that collective homicide in the US cannot be properly understood solely through a discussion of the unsettled southern political situation after 1865, but must be seen against a global conversation about changing cultural meanings of 'race', as well as concepts of imperialism, gender, sexuality and 'civilization'.

Excerpt

On the evening of May 16, 1918, someone shot into the Georgia home of a young white farmer, Hampton Smith, killing him instantly. Smith lived in Brooks County, on the Florida state line. Mid-May is already summer in the area, and the humid air lies heavily on the land day and night. Air conditioning was several decades away, so the attacker fired through an open window. The same person, perhaps with several other men, also wounded Smith’s pregnant wife, Bertha. Somehow she managed to escape and make her way several miles to the nearest neighbor.

A report quickly spread among the whites of Brooks County, part of Georgia’s wiregrass and long-leaf pine region, that a group of black men had murdered Hampton Smith and repeatedly raped Bertha. The local white population exploded in fury. Posses began to search for Sidney Johnson, an African American who had worked on Hampton’s farm, and his alleged fellow murderers and rapists. Within five days, white mobs killed up to 11 black people.

To define lynching is no simple matter, as Chapter 1 will show. But in essence the word means that a group, acting with a goal of service to the public, puts someone to death outside the bounds of the law. How death is delivered does not matter; mobs have used ropes, guns, clubs, fists, fire, and probably many other means of ending their victims’ lives. Every lynching is grim; even the simplest hanging can be agonizingly slow, choking the victim to death over a half-hour or longer.

The South Georgia episode featured some of the most grotesque mob murders recorded in America. One involved the death on May 18 of Hayes Turner, an African American suspected of plotting to kill Hampton Smith. Turner “was taken from the jail at Quitman by Sheriff Wade and the Clerk of the County Court, Roland Knight by name, for the purpose of being carried to Moultrie for safe-keeping.” A mob caught up with the officers, took Turner from them, and killed him. “He hung on the tree between Saturday and Monday and was then cut down by the county convicts.” But the worst single stroke of violence was still ahead.

Anna Motz

This book is designed to help clinicians, people who self-harm and their families to understand its causes, meaning and treatment. The notion of managing self-harm is central to this text. The idea of managing self-harm is inextricably tied into understanding it. The book does not offer a prescription for stopping self-harm, or specific behavioural guidelines but rather describes therapeutic approaches to working with self-harm, and outlines the complex, subtle and meaningful interaction between those who engage in self-harm and those who seek to understand it. What needs to be managed is not only the behaviour and distress of those who self-harm, but also what can be the overwhelming and potentially unhelpful responses of therapists and other workers, who may find the intensity of their own feelings in relation to self-harm too much to bear. When these countertransference feelings can be thought about and contained, they become a tool to understanding what it is that self-harm communicates. At this point, meaningful engagement and therapeutic work can begin.

There are many voices in this book, and each chapter integrates theory with clinical illustration, enabling the direct experiences of those who self-harm to be heard. Throughout the book, the contributors provide clinical material to bring theory alive. The book is designed to describe, illustrate and make intelligible the function, meaning and complexity of self-harm, in the populations most at risk. The selection of contributors reflects the populations in which self-harm occurs most frequently – adolescents, young people in care and women in . . .

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