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.
I have also written about the role of periodization in Anglo-American historiography; 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 working on two other projects. The first examines the cultural remaking of sports spectatorship in North America, a process I trace to the 1980s when large screen videoboards, such as the DiamondVision and Jumbotron, assumed a growing importance in the presentation of live sports. The second project considers the place of psychoanalysis within Anglo-American anthropology, tracking this influence through the career of Ashley Montagu between the 1920s and late 1970s, a subject I recently wrote about for the History of Anthropology Review blog.
In 2020-21, working with first-year History and American Studies students and local A-Level teachers, I co-produced a short booklet offering 'New Approaches to US Civil Rights History'. The project was funded by the US Embassy/ British Association of American Studies and University of Manchester' Social Responsibility funds, and can be downloaded here.