Karen Ferguson

Office: AQ 6232
Email: kjfergus@sfu.ca
Personal Website: www.sfu.ca/~kjfergus

Areas of Study:


Future courses may be subject to change.

Biography & Research Interests

I'm a White settler, born in Regina, Saskatchewan on the land of the Blackfoot/Niitsítapi, Métis, and Sioux. My research interests in U.S. history are twentieth-century African American, policy, and urban history. I've published two books on these subjects. The first is Black Politics in New Deal Atlanta, which considers elite African American reformers and their efforts to use the new federal welfare programs of the Great Depression and World War II to improve the lot of Atlanta’s Black community against all odds in the Jim Crow era. The second, Top Down: The Ford Foundation, Black Power, and the Reinvention of Racial Liberalism, is a study of race, power, and politics, examining how the White policy establishment sought to engage and shape Black-power activism in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s.

            Currently, I’m engaged in a new research project with my History Department colleague, Luke Clossey, on the spread of Theravadin Buddhist monasticism along the West Coast of North America since the 1980s, among both recent migrants from Southeast Asia and “convert” Buddhists.  Through this case, we’re examining the far-reaching cultural consequences in the region of a converging global middle class of highly skilled and educated Asian migrants and their counterparts in a largely White, so-called “creative” class.

New Work

“Birken Buddhist Forest Monastery: Asian Migration, the Creative Class, and Cultural Transformation in the New Pacific British Columbia,” (forthcoming, BC Studies, Winter 2021).



  • "Organizing the Ghetto: CORE, the Ford Foundation, and American Pluralism, 1967-1969," Journal of Urban History, forthcoming November 2007.
  • “Supporting Global Sustainability by Rethinking the City,” Journal of Urban Technology, 14, no. 2 (2007): 3-13. (With Meg Holden, Anthony Perl, and Mark Roseland).
  • "The Politics of Exclusion: Wartime Industrialization, Civil Rights Mobilization, and Black Politics in Atlanta, Georgia, 1942-1946," The Second Wave: Southern Industrialization from the 1940s to the 1970s, ed. Philip Scranton (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001), 43-80.
  • "Caught in 'No Man's Land': The Negro Cooperative Demonstration Service and the Ideology of Booker T. Washington, 1900-1918," Agricultural History 72, no. 2 (Winter 1998): 33-54.


Recorded Lectures

Areas of Graduate Supervision

Twentieth-Century Urban History, Post-Emancipation African American History, History of Post-Reconstruction American Public Policy, History of Race in the United States.

Accepting new graduate students: no


  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Aid to Workshops and Conferences in Canada Grant, 2005
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Standard Research Grant, 2002-2005
  • University Publications Grant, Simon Fraser University, 2001
  • SSHRC One-Time Institutional Grant, 2000