Dr Andrew Fearnley

Lecturer 20th Century US History; Admissions Tutor for American Studies

Full contact details
View graph of relations

Biography

I am an historian of the modern United States, with interests in the history of racial thought, African American intellectual history, urban studies, and the histories of leisure and work. Much of my research deals with the concept of race, and the history of racial thought in the twentieth century. My doctoral work considered how American psychiatrists'  ways of thinking and practicing were shaped by racial assumptions, and proposed ways in which historians could go about illuminating this concept in that field. The work charts the introduction of new methods to the mental sciences -- the case file, statistics and epidemiology, family therapy, genetic analysis -- arguing that these methods shaped the profile and purchase of concepts like race. It is work that draws from several different fields, including the history and philosophy of science, intellectual history, and the histories of racial thought.

In the last few years I have also written on several other subjects, applying the techniques of intellectual history to other domains. These projects have included the role of periodization in Anglo-American historiography; and the financing of activism among black power groups, especially within the Black Panther Party (I spoke about the British Black Panthers on the BBC Radio 4 programme, Making History, in September 2013). More recently I co-edited a collection with Daniel Matlin (KCL) about the changing place and profile of Harlem, New York, entitled Race Capital? Harlem as Setting and Symbol.

I am presently drafting two essays. The first looks at the cultural remaking of sports spectatorship in North America, a process that I argue began in the 1980s when large screen videoboards, such as the DiamondVision and Jumbotron, assumed a growing importance in the presentation of live sports. The second essay considers the place of psychoanalysis within Anglo-American anthropology, tracking this influence through the career of Ashley Montagu between the 1920s and late 1970s, and showing how such interests cannot be entirely recovered if approached only through the lens of the 'culture and personality' movement. 

Further information

Postgraduate Students:

I would be interested in hearing from postgraduate students wishing to work on any of the fields and topics I have written about. These include the following areas:

  • African American intellectual history
  • History of racial thought, particularly (though not exclusively) in the modern US
  • History of the mental sciences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • Studies of work and leisure in the twentieth-century US

My research interests cluster around several different topics, though all of them are focused on the history of the twentieth-century United States. My primary research concerns the intellectual history of race, and modes of racial thought more generally. To date I have tracked these concepts through several projects on the Anglo-American human and mental sciences, and am presently engaged in writing my first monograph, a history of how the concept of race influenced the development of the mental sciences in the United States. More broadly I would be interested in supervising those wishing to work on the burgeoning field of African American intellectual history, a subject I've addressed in two recent articles (on the history of periodization in African American studies, and the Black Panther Party's publishing strategies). Both of these are topics well-served by the facilities and resources on offer around Manchester. Finally, and arising largely out of my teaching interests, I would also welcome inquiries from postgraduate students wishing to work on the histories and cultures of leisure and ideas of work in the US. 

I have supervised or co-supervised the following postgraduate students:

James West 'Ebony Magazine and the Making and Selling of Modern Black History' (PhD., 2015)

Nicole Gipson, African American Homelessness in Washington, DC, during the Reagan Administration

George Bickers, Spatial Activism in Social Movements in New York and Los Angeles, 1960s-70s

Biology, Medicine and Health (BMH) Domains

Related information