Introduction
The twentieth century dawns in blood
in A savage song
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This chapter sets out the historical and ideological context in which the events analysed in the book take place. The book takes a relation framework that recognizes the specificity of different historical forms of racism while also being attentive to the fact that these forms did not arise in isolation from one another. Looking at the encounters of violence examined in this book alongside each other, the chapter argues, allows some insight into the tangle of gendered racisms that emerged from the expansion of racialized capitalism in the Americas and the enduring material and cultural legacies of slavery, settler colonialism, and U.S. imperialism. In particular, the chapter introduces the U.S. constructions of savagery and masculinity that emerged at the turn of the century to explain the dominance of white race and the death and subjugation of the world’s “degenerative races,” as well as African Americans and Mexicans’ own conceptualizations of manhood, virility and struggle.

A savage song

Racist violence and armed resistance in the early twentieth-century U.S.–Mexico borderlands

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