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- PhD Duke University (History), 1996
- BA (Hons.) McGill University (History), 1989
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.
- “Birken Buddhist Forest Monastery: Asian Migration, the Creative Class, and Cultural Transformation in the New Pacific British Columbia,” (forthcoming, BC Studies, Winter 2021).
- 2013. Ferguson, K. Top down: The Ford Foundation, black power, and the reinvention of racial liberalism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
- 2002. Ferguson, K. Black politics in New Deal Atlanta. Chapel Hill & London: The University of North Carolina Press.
- “Parallel Confrontations: the Ford Foundation and the Limits of Racial Liberalism, 1968 and 2019," HistPhil (History of Philanthropy blog), eds. Benjamin Soskis, Maribel Morey, Stanley Katz. 3 February 2020.
- “The Perils of Liberal Philanthropy,” Jacobin, 26 November 2019.
- “The Ford Foundation’s Reform from Above in Ocean-Hill Brownsville,” Jacobin, 19 September, 2019.
- “Race & Postwar Liberalism Interview Series, Part III: Karen Ferguson,” S-USIH (Society for US Intellectual History) Blog, 1 February 2018.
- "How Have Black Lives Mattered to American Philanthropy," invited entry for HistPhil (History of Philanthropy blog), eds. Benjamin Soskis, Maribel Morey, Stanley Katz. 3 August 2015.
- How Thai Forest Buddhism Came to British Columbia, Talk presented with Luke Clossey for the David Lam Centre, Simon Fraser University, 3 October 2019.
- “The Yin-Yang of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr,” Talk Presented in the SFU History Department’s public lecture series “Heroes and Villains of History,” February 2014.