Lynching in Times of Suffocation: Toward a Spatiotemporal Politics of Breathing

Ersula Ore, Matthew Houdek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Drawing from theories of race and time, this article examines how discourse policing the continuities of lynching’s past and present manifests temporally to construct the hegemony of white national time. This dominant temporal formation materializes in the law and public memory as an institutionalized common sense (of legal time and memorial time) to create “times of suffocation” for Black lives and which perpetuate end-of-lynching sentiments in contingent projects to maintain the racial status quo (Ore). We explore how countertemporal rhetorics of racialized violence manifest both in Black women’s responses to the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act and the Equal Justice Institute’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice to confront the suffocating hegemony of white national time, enabling a space and time to breathe and articulate different conceptions of justice, memory, and healing. By centering on the time of racialized violence, we argue that narrow definitions of racism, justice, and memories of racism’s “past” are impoverished, as they cannot account for the fundamental temporal relationship between lynchings past and present. We introduce a spatiotemporal politics of breathing as a framework through which “racial rhetorical criticism” (Flores, Towards) can better account for ongoing legacies of anti-Black violence and the possible futures enabled by recognizing nonlinear temporalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-458
Number of pages16
JournalWomen's Studies in Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Anti-blackness
  • justice
  • legal time
  • memorial time
  • white national time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Communication


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