Twenty-first century discourses of American lynching

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2 Scopus citations


In the last 25 years increased violence against Black Americans by police and white vigilantes has led to a resurgence in lynching discourse. This article examines two strains of twenty-first century lynching discourse in America with attention to questions of historical erasure and racial appropriation. The move from justificatory discourses of lynching to rhetoric stigmatizing its practice led to two distinct discursive forms: a rhetoric of memorialization that reads Black women as part of the lynching archive and a rhetoric of white aggrievement and victimhood that leverages the moral authority of Black trauma to evade justice. By mapping the shift from justificatory discourses of lynching and rhetoric professing its ‘end’ to discourse memorializing victims and rhetoric professing lynching’s persistence, this article illumines how the term lynching circulates in the twenty-first century American discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-523
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Black women
  • Lynching
  • Trump
  • discourse
  • racial appropriation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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