This research explores the structural and collective determinants of ethnic violence against indigenous peoples in California, from 1850 to 1865. In this context, violence encompasses killings resulting from both state operations and civilian lynch mobs, vigilante parties, and individual homicides. By employing a "mediated competition" approach, which argues that structural sources of potential grievance formation are a necessary but insufficient basis for violent ethnic mobilization, this research focuses on how actors mobilized in various ways, with varying degrees of lethality, to suppress the indigenous population of the state.

Analytically, this research employs a unique multi-methods approach. First, to explain variability in the timing and intensity of violent victimization, the investigators will construct an original historical dataset that documents roughly 780 incidents of anti-indigenous violence in the state, as well as relevant county-level political, economic, and demographic conditions. Fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) will be employed to specify the precise ways in which these structural determinants combined with meso-level mechanisms to produce varying levels of indigenous victimization in different counties and regions. Next, using formal techniques, the fsQCA results will be used to specify theoretically relevant regions that represent divergent "micro-climates" of violent mobilization. Detailed qualitative data on these regions will then be used to compliment structural insights with an exploration of meso-level mechanisms that either facilitated or inhibited mobilization.

Because of the potential scholarly and evidentiary value of the project's original historical dataset, the investigators will make the quantitative dataset and relevant qualitative materials accessible to teachers, educators, and the public. It will also produce scholarly material augmenting a growing historical literature on American colonial violence in California, with a systematic and theoretically informed account of specific patterns of violent mobilization among different state and civic actors. Research findings and data will be disseminated in a manner to support research, education, policy and community organizing related to historical indigenous justice topics and contemporary remedial efforts. Results can inform the work of a wide range of social science scholars working on ethnic repression and violence in societies transitioning to democracy.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Patricia White
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University of California Irvine
United States
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