William D. Carrigan, an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, will present “Why Ordinary People Lynched” at 7 p.m. in Ullman Commons 100/101 on the Thousand Oaks campus. The lecture will address one of the historical underpinnings of racial tension in the United States.
Carrigan will explore why and how ordinary people came to think that lynching was an acceptable, even preferable, means of maintaining the social order. He examines extralegal mob activity in the 19th century as a violent manifestation of rough justice that included lethal assaults on Native Americans, Mexicans, immigrants, African-Americans and Anglo-Americans. Becoming prevalent in the 1830s and subsiding somewhat by 1910, the vigilante reprisals had varied pretexts, from perceived social transgressions to horse thieving, cattle rustling and murder.
A native Texan, Carrigan wrote “The Making of a Lynching Culture: Violence and Vigilantism in Central Texas, 1836–1916.” The 2004 book received the Richard L. Wentworth Prize in American History. During the past decade, he has been studying the lynching of Mexicans in the United States in collaboration with Clive Webb of the University of Sussex. With the support of institutions including the Huntington Library, the National Science Foundation and the Clements Center, they have published four essays on the subject as well as the 2013 book “Forgotten Dead: Mob Violence against Mexicans in the United States, 1848-1928.”
Most recently, Carrigan edited the 2015 collection of essays “Lynching Reconsidered: New Directions in the Study of Mob Violence.” He also co-edited the 2013 book “Swift to Wrath: Lynching in Global Historical Perspective.” The history of lynching and mob violence has become a subject of considerable scholarly and public interest in recent years.
Carrigan, chair of the history department at Rowan University in New Jersey, has taught courses there since 1999 on such topics as the Civil War and Reconstruction, the American West, and the history of New Jersey. Prior to joining the Rowan faculty, he taught at Spelman College in Atlanta. Carrigan earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin and a doctorate from Emory University. The New York Times, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, Associated Press and other media have cited his research.
Cal Lutheran’s Artists and Speakers Series, Phi Alpha Theta history honor society and History Club are sponsoring the free event. Ullman Commons is located at 101 Memorial Parkway. For more information, contact David Nelson at 805-493-3318 or [email protected].