This introductory chapter begins with a brief discussion of how South Africa and the United States of America, two countries with notorious histories of racial violence, attempted to formally deal with their violent pasts at roughly the same time. It then notes that, to date, no major comparative work has considered interpersonal violence as a distinctive component of the broad field of ‘racial repression’. By focusing on unofficial violence in the early stages of segregation in both countries, this study hopes to stimulate questions about a neglected phenomenon that tells us much about the development of distinctive forms and ‘styles’ of white supremacy.
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