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B. Brian Foster

Associate Professor

Twitter: @bbrianfoster

Research Interests: Race and Place; Racism/Racial Inequality; Rural Sociology; Black Racial Attitudes; Popular Culture

Areas of Methodological Expertise: Qualitative Methods, Ethnography, Oral History, Participatory Mapping

B. Brian Foster is an Associate Professor of Sociology. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Professor Foster studies Black community life in the post-Soul (i.e., post-1960's) United States, with attention to rural communities in the U.S. South. That has translated to a research agenda centered on neighborhood effects, economic development, racial attitudes and "epistemologies," culture, and placemaking.

In his book, I Don't Like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life, Professor Foster takes his research agenda to the Mississippi Delta. The book follows Black residents in the town of Clarksdale both as they navigate the on-the-ground impacts of substantial demographic restructuring in the Delta region and as they make sense of the town's attempt to use blues and heritage tourism as a tool to rebuild the town's economic infrastructure. Along the way, Foster theorizes the "backbeat" as an analytic and interpretive tool for theorizing Black counter-subjectivities (e.g., absence, avoidance, dislike, doubt, dread, exhaustion, skepticism).

Professor Foster values collaboration and public sociology. He is the co-editor of Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, one of the premier outlets for sociological scholarship focused on race and ethnicity; and he is working with Guggenheim-award-winning photographer Rich Frishman on Ghosts of Segregation, a book project exploring the vestiges of segregation in the vernacular environment of the U.S. Professor Foster's public writing and award-winning creative work have appeared in local, regional, and national outlets, including Washington Post, CNN, Veranda, Esquire, Bitter Southerner, Gravy, and Oxford Magazine.


I Don’t Like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life. (University of North Carolina Press)

“‘Everybody Gotta Have a Dream’: Rap-centered Aspirations among Young Black Males Involved in Rap Music Production.” (Issues in Race and Ethnicity: An Interdisciplinary Global Journal)

“Rewriting Wright: A Note on Perspective in Method and Writing.” (The New Black Sociologists: Historical & Contemporary Perspectives)

"Antebellum Houses of the American South: What Happens Now?" (Veranda Magazine)

"As Real as the Mississippi Hills" (Bitter Southerner)

"The Black Woman Who Demanded the Surrender of the University of Mississippi's State Flag" (CNN)

"Confederate monuments are more than reminders of our racist past. They are symbols of our racist present." (Washington Post)

"We Travel" Award-Winning Short Film (Southern Foodways Alliance)
Office Hours

Fall 2023 - On Leave

Selected Publications