Early-twentieth-century New Orleans was extraordinarily violent, and the city’s domestic homicide rate was particularly high. Remarkably rich sources for the period from 1921 to 1945 reveal distinct race- and gender-based levels and etiologies of spousal murder. Although challenges to patriarchal authority and men’s proprietary control triggered most of the violence, the African American partner homicide rate was seven times the white rate, and the African American women’s spousal homicide rate five times that of white men and a dozen times that of white women. These disparities reflected the interaction among race relations, gender ideals, and a series of neighborhood and institutional forces, which combined to reinforce masculine privilege in white families and destabilize household authority in African American families, resulting in divergent patterns of spousal murder.


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pp. 14-36
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