My independent study thesis will focus on conducting research on the ethical and political concerns of African-American riots, or what I will refer to as ‘civil violence.’ There exists a substantial need to delve into this issue, as little research has sought to answer the question of why these events occur and why people participate in violence at this level. As a joint project between the departments of Philosophy and Political Science, I take a unique approach in connecting the theories of internal colonialism and insurrectionist ethics. This allows for a two-fold analysis that connects these provide a more complete explanation of civil violence phenomena than what is currently provided. It is my contention that African-American, urban ghettos fit a colonial complex and should be understood as an internal colony within the United States that is similar to traditional colonial relationships. Facing the deplorable conditions and injustice forced on them, ghetto community residents resist against the greater society and this sometimes takes form through civil violence. Furthermore, I believe that the actions taken within civil violence events fall under the purview of an insurrectionist ethics, which argues in defense of oppressed communities for action against oppressive relationships. The first two chapters of this thesis focus on developing and contextualizing insurrectionist ethics, civil violence, and internal colonialism. In testing my theory against civil violence events, I will conduct a two-part case study on the city of Baltimore, Maryland by testing for a colonial relationship and then providing a historical account of the 2015 Baltimore Unrest. The final chapter will analysis my findings in relation to internal colonialism and insurrectionist ethics to test whether the two theories fit.


McBride, Lee

Second Advisor

Moskowitz, Eric


Philosophy; Political Science


American Politics | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Other Philosophy


Riot, colonialism, violence, protest

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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