Uniform Threat: Manufacturing the Ku Klux Klan’s Visible Empire, 1905-1937


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


American Culture


This cultural history of industrially produced Ku Klux Klan regalia in the early twentieth century argues that the Klan’s iconic white robes and hoods facilitated the revival, expansion, and eventual failure of the white supremacist order during this period. Drawing also on both material culture and visual studies, this project uncovers material practices that enabled the Klan’s design, production, distribution, and use of its regalia. Usually detached from its conditions of production, the white robe and hood continue to operate as an iconic image of racial violence well into the present. This project historicizes the image and probes into its unstable meaning in the early twentieth century by demonstrating how members, leaders, and critics of the organization used robes and hoods to grapple over the terms of whiteness, masculinity, US citizenship, and violence in their everyday lives.