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Brian Foster

Brain Foster

I grew up in Shannon, Mississippi, a town with one flashing light, a grocery store, and tradition as deep as the red in the dirt roads—roads that led to houses and gravesites, histories and openness. I grew up a lover of music and words. My soundtrack was late-90s era Memphis rap, from Playa Fly to Three Six Mafia to La Chat. My writing was mostly poems and short stories, strange compositions about coming of age in Mississippi. Today, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they have stayed the same. I’m still growing up, though I suppose now I’m a little bit further along. I still write about being black in the South. And, I still bump old Memphis rap—yes, I’m going to do this—like it’s 1999.

I earned a BA in African American studies from the University of Mississippi and an MA a PhD in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

My research takes a critical, interdisciplinary, and multi-method approach to the study of race, culture, and inequality, with particular attention to post-soul (i.e. post-1970s) black cultures in the rural American South. In general, my work addresses two questions: how have rural southern communities changed in the fifty-plus years since the civil rights and Black Power movements, and what are the perspectives and experiences of black southerners living in these contexts? Geographically, much of my work is set in the Mississippi Delta.