Dr Andrew Fearnley

Lecturer 20th Century US History

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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. 

Working with first year History and American Studies students, I am in the process of putting together a short booklet for teachers of A-Level History. The work offers 16 short perspectives on how scholarship around the US civil rights movement has changed in the past decade. The booklet, funded by the US Embassy and British Association of American Studies, will be available in early February 2021 for free download, and further information can be found here.

Along with my colleagues, I am one of the organizers of the programme's 'Letters to a President' UK schools competition. 

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

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