Research Interests

Research Themes

My research falls into two main areas. Much of my work has focused on race relations in the South of the United States. In particular, I have concentrated on the ideology of southern segregationists and white supremacists, especially the way in which segregationists sought to develop responses to civil rights activity after the Second World War in the period known by contemporaries and scholars alike as "Massive Resistance." That research has included a detailed examination of the ways in which anti-communism was deployed as a weapon of white supremacy in the 1950s and 1960s, and of the various ways in which the Cold War impacted upon the southern campaign to maintain segregation, which resulted in my first monograph, The White South and the Red Menace. Having been successful in the competition for research leave funding from the AHRC, I completed a second book, Massive Resistance: the White Response to the Civil Rights Movement. My interest in the ideology of segregation has also developed into a study of the ways in which a number of the South’s white supremacists sought to forge links with a national audience, not least through their attempts to plug into the emerging mood of national conservatism at the end of the 1960s. This, I have argued, represented the segregationists’ “northern strategy”. In 2007, I spoke on the subject of race relations to the directors and cast of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Noughts and Crosses, and have been a regular contributor to Leicester’s celebration of black history month.

I am also interested in the long history of the term “un-American.” I received a three-year British Academy Research Development Award [BARDA] for a project on “Un-Americans: Ideological Dissent, Patriotic Subversion and Isolating the “Other” in the USA.” That funding has sustained a number of related projects designed to produce the first sustained history of the “un-American” and those who were labelled “un-Americans,” from the origins of the term in the late eighteenth century to its twentieth century incarnations. That project has included an international conference, “Un-Americans and the Un-American: From 1776 to 9/11,” which took place at the University of Leicester in 2010, the “Un-American” Special Issue of the Journal of American Studies, a number of chapters and articles, and a forthcoming monograph.

Current Research Projects

My current research project is funded by a three year British Academy Research Development Award [BARDA] (entitled Un-Americans: Ideological Dissent, Patriotic Subversion and Isolating the “Other” in the USA). By using a series of chronological case studies, it will produce the first sustained history of the “un-American” and those who were labelled “un-Americans,” from the origins of the term in the late eighteenth century to its twentieth century incarnations. The project will culminate in an international conference and a monograph.

 

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