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B. Brian Foster

Associate Professor
Curriculum Vitae (154.38 KB)

Twitter: @bbrianfoster

Research Interests: Race and Place; Black Racial Attitudes; Economic Development (in the rural U.S. South); Popular Culture

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

B. Brian Foster is an ethnographer and multi-medium storyteller working to document and interpret the culture, folklore, and placemaking practices of Black communities in the rural U.S. South. For the last ten years, he has set his work in several towns and small communities in north Mississippi, where he was born and raised. Brian’s areas of expertise include the sociology of racism and race, place studies, urban/rural sociology, and qualitative methods. His perspective and theoretical orientation are rooted in the histories and paradigms of Black Sociology and the Black Radical Tradition.

Brian has written two books. I Don’t like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life (2020) chronicles the growth and development of blues tourism in the Mississippi Delta. The book received awards from the Association of Black Sociologists and the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

His second book Ghosts of Segregation: American Racism, Hidden in Plain Sight (2024) is a collaborative photo-essay collection featuring the work of award-winning photographer Richard Frishman. Frishman’s hyperpixel photographs document vestiges of racism, oppression, and segregation in the U.S. (e.g., a set of double doors that once was a “Colored Entrance,” the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma), and Foster’s essays blend memoir and personal storytelling with ethnographic reporting and sociological analysis to offer piercing commentary on the realities and histories captured by the photographs. 

Brian is working on a new book—Casino Town—which interrogates the cultural, environmental, and human impacts of casino development in the Mississippi Delta. He is also building an expansive archive of oral history interviews and photographs focused on the histories and placemaking practices of Black communities in the rural South. At UVA, he is a member of the “Home Places: Mapping Black Virginia” working group, which received funding from the Karsh Institute to pilot a public history program focused on the history and culture of Black communities in central Virginia.

Since 2021, Brian has served as co-editor-in-chief of Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, an official journal of the American Sociological Association and the top peer review outlet for sociological scholarship on racism and race.

Brian is also an essayist and filmmaker. His writing has appeared in edited volumes, as well as national, regional, and local outlets, including Delish, Veranda, and Bitter Southerner; and his short films have been selected and awarded by more than a dozen film festivals.


Ghosts of Segregation: American Racism, Hidden in Plain Sight (Celadon Books)

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

Wednesdays 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Can be scheduled at
Randall Hall 226