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Abstract

Lynching has shaped U.S. history and identity from the colonial era to the present. Recent scholarship has expanded the periodization and geographical definition of lynching to encompass not only the South from 1880 to 1930, but also acts of vigilante violence in the West that span a much longer history. New scholarship treats the terrorizing and regulatory functions of lynching, but also the work that such violence does in creating and upholding different kinds of power. Such attention to the constitutive power of violence signals a momentous turn in the historiography, one that promises to connect histories of vigilantism with those of empire, torture, war, rape, and other kinds of violence.