Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History
Director of Africana Studies Program
Adams Hall - 308
Interdisciplinary exploration of the rise and fall (and reappearance) of the affirmative action debate that shaped so much of the American culture wars during the 1970s and 2000s. Students primarily study affirmative action in the United States, but comparative analysis of affirmative action systems in societies outside the United States, such as South Africa and India, is also considered. Examines important Supreme Court cases that have shaped the contours of affirmative action, the rise of diversity discourse, and the different ways political and cultural ideologies -- not to mention historical notions of American identity -- have determined when, where, and how affirmative action has existed and whom it benefits. Study of law, economics, sociology, anthropology, history, and political science introduces students to different methodological approaches that inform Africana studies and the field’s examination of the role people of African descent have played in contemporary and historical American society. Writing intensive. Analytical discussions of assigned texts.
Focuses on major humanities and social science disciplinary and interdisciplinary African American and African diaspora themes in the context of the modern world. The African American experience is addressed in its appropriate historical context, emphasizing its important place in the history of the United States and connections to African diasporic experiences, especially in the construction of the Atlantic world. Material considered chronologically and thematically builds on historically centered accounts of African American, African diaspora, and African experiences. Introduces prospective Africana studies majors and minors to the field; provides an overview of the predominant theoretical and methodological perspectives in this evolving discipline; and establishes historical context for critical analyses of African American experiences in the United States, and their engagement with the African diaspora.
20th Century America, African American, Urban
Video: 2016 Karofsky Encore Lecture: Struggle and Progress: People of African Descent in New York City Since the 1500s
Brian Purnell, Fighting Jim Crow in the County of Kings: The Congress of Racial Equality in Brooklyn (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2013)
**Winner of the New York State Historical Association 2012 Dixon Ryan Fox Manuscript Prize
Brian Purnell, " 'What We Need is Brick and Mortar:' Race, Gender and Early Leadership of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation," in Laura Warren Hill and Julia Rabig (eds)., The Business of Black Power: Community Development, Capitalism, and Corporate Responsibility in Postwar America (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2012), 217-244.
Brian Purnell, "Spotlight on New York's 'Law Against Discrimination,' " (PDF) New York Archives, 10:4, 10-13
Brian Purnell, “ ‘Revolution Has Come to Brooklyn:’ The Campaign against Discrimination in the Construction Trades and Growing Militancy in the Northern Black Freedom Movement,” in Black Power at Work, edited by David Goldberg and Trevor Griffey (Cornell University Press, 2010)
Brian Purnell, “Interview with Dr. John Hope Franklin" (PDF) Journal of African American History, (94:3), 407-421
Brian Purnell, “Desegregating the Jim Crow North: Bronx African Americans and the Fight to Integrate the Castle Hill Beach Club – 1953-1963,” (PDF) Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, (32:2), 47-78
Brian Purnell and Oneka LaBennett, “The Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP) and Approaches to Scholarship About/For Black Communities,” (PDF) Introduction to Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, July 2009 (32:2), special issue on scholarship produced in connection to the Bronx African American History Project, co-guest edited by Oneka LaBennett and Brian Purnell
Brian Purnell, “ ‘Taxation without Sanitation is Tyranny’: Civil Rights Struggles Over Garbage Collection in Brooklyn, New York During the Fall of 1962,” (PDF) in Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, July 2007 (31:2), 61-88. ** Reprinted in Clarence Taylor, editor, Civil Rights in New York City: From World War II to the Giuliani Era (Fordham University Press, 2010), 79-105
Brian Purnell, “ ‘Drive Awhile for Freedom’: Brooklyn CORE’s 1964 Stall-In and Public Discourses on Protest Violence,” in Jeanne F. Theoharis and Komozi Woodard (eds.), Ground Work: Local Black Freedom Movements in America (New York: New York University Press, 2005), 45-75
Reflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Brooklyn, New York, Brooklyn Historical Society, February – August 2008
Brian Purnell, "Freedom North Studies, the Long Civil Rights Movement, and Twentieth-Century Liberalism in American Cities," The Journal of American History, 42:3, 634-640.
Brian Purnell, "The Civil Rights Era and Southern History," (PDF) Reviews in American History, Volume 42, Number 4, December 2014, pp. 718-729
Brian Purnell, “Review of The African Burial Ground National Monument,” (PDF) Journal of American History, 97:3 (December 2010)
Brian Purnell, “Review of Glenda Gilmore’s Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950,” North Carolina Historical Review, 87:3 (July 2010)
Brian Purnell, “Review of Joseph Wolfinger, Philadelphia Divided,” The Journal of African American History, 93:4 (Fall 2008)
Brian Purnell, “Review of Steven Lawson’s Civil Rights Crossroads: Nation, Community, and the Black Freedom Struggle,” North Carolina Historical Review (April 2006)
Brian Purnell, “Boundary Crossings: Nigger, White Boy, and Living Race in America,” Souls 4:4 (Fall 2002), 102-108
Brian Purnell provides commentary in the on-line educational project, "Created Equal: Image, Sound, Story" created by the Jacob Burns Film Center and the Brooklyn Historical Society.
Brian Purnell presents at Carnegie Mellon University's symposium on the history of the ghetto.
Brian Purnell interviewed on New Books in History
Brian Purnell presents at the conference, The War on Poverty at 50: Its History and Legacy
Brian Purnell lectures on Brooklyn's Unity Democratic Club
Brian Purnell speaks on WAMC about history of community service on Martin Luther King holiday
Bowdoin Daily Sun: Video: Bowdoin’s Purnell on ‘Fighting Jim Crow’
New York Times Bookshelf: Unearthing Memories of the Vietnam War Books on Veterans, Civil Rights and Sacred Places
Brooklyn Connections: Teachers Workshop on the Civil Rights Movement in Brooklyn
Bowdoin Daily Sun: Purnell Civil Rights Book-Manuscript Wins Prize
Brian Purnell is featured on C-SPAN show, Lectures in History
Bowdoin Daily Sun: Slide show of pictures from the taping of Lectures in History