Humza Jilani

Humza Jilani

2020 Undergraduate Fellow
Social Studies

Thesis titleand description:
"Bullets and Ballots: A Comparative Analysis of Racial Violence in the American South, 1880 to 1915"

I plan to conduct archival research on lynching in the South in the period between the end of Reconstruction and the Great Migration (c. 1880to 1915) for my Social Studies senior honors thesis.

The research is part of a broader multi-country analysis of ethnic and racial violence in the United States and India, both historically and contemporarily. I will draw on literature about Hindu-Muslim violence in India in order to tell a generalizable story about the political conditions which propel ethnonationalist parties –like the Democratic Party in the Jim Crow South and the Bharata Janata Party in India –to permit or endorse anti-democratic violence against minorities. The research would contribute something important to the study of democracy in general. Discourses about a “tyranny of the majority” and the challenge of multiculturalism in democracies necessarily turn on a question of what, exactly, the “majority” is. The white racial majority, for example, often subdivided across religious, class, and even ethnolinguistic cleavages. Thus, it is difficult to pinpoint a true “majority” in a society; yet, we still see tyrannizing effects of racial or ethnic policies in the form of segregation and intense violence. My hypothesis, then, is that violence itself serves a dual role of suppressing the minority and creating the “majority”–that is, it consolidates the political identities of whites or Hindus across a single axis in oppositionto the minority other.