July 16–17, 2020
This conference is closed to the public.
This conference brings together a group of scholars who are all examining the dynamics of a persistent and often-horrifying practice in the contemporary world: the use of lynching as a form of vigilante violence to police and to punish fellow citizens. Community-based, extra-judicial justice, in which groups of ordinary people mete out excessively violent capital punishment for (even minor) crimes, occurs in many parts of the globe. Lynching is an accepted—and broadly supported—form of punishment for infractions or perceived wrongs in certain communities in many states around the world. News of lynching has been featured in headlines in major newspapers, with journalists often questioning whether local incidents are isolated events or part of a broader national or global trend.
Much of the scholarship on lynching is focused on the experience of the US South in the nineteenth century, and more contemporary analyses are largely limited to single case studies in anthropology. However, a collection of political scientists—all scholars of political violence and comparative politics—have recently, and independently, begun to examine the problem of lynching in a wide variety of contexts around the world, using numerous data sources and methods to uncover patterns in the causes and consequences of contemporary lynching. This conference will be the first convening of its type, bringing together a set of accomplished scholars of political violence and comparative politics, all embarking on new projects on lynching and vigilantism. It represents a crucial moment to frame, connect, and collaborate on an emerging literature.