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The Properties of ViolenceClaims to Ownership in Representations of Lynching$
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Sandy Alexandre

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617036651

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617036651.001.0001

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On Location in Lynching Photographs

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The Properties of Violence

Sandy Alexandre

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter focuses on James Allen’s controversial exhibit Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (2000), a collection of photographs that project both the sites of lynchings (outdoors) and the fact of the lynched body’s suspension above solid ground. It argues that the photographs act in concert to reveal important dimensions of black dispossession. More specifically, the photographs demonstrate how African Americans were denied access to property and (by extension) to citizenship, and thus were “without sanctuary” on American soil. The chapter also looks at lynching’s collateral damages such as dead bodies and other remains that constitute the various items belonging to the lynching narrative. It discusses the concept of privacy in the context of lynching violence and concludes with the contention that the photographs produce a “what’s whose” or a “what belongs to whom” of African American history, rather than a who’s who.

Keywords:   exhibit, James Allen, photographs, dispossession, African Americans, property, collateral damages, dead bodies, privacy, violence

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