Say Burgin

Lecturer in American History

+44 (0)113 34 34476

Summary: Race, gender, power and knowledge; African American History; Social movement history; Civil Rights and Black Power; Women’s Liberation

Location: School of History, Michael Sadler Building

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the intersections of gender, race and social movements in the twentieth century United States. In particular, I am interested in uncovering the ways in which activists in the US have historically mobilised gendered and racialised identities and worked to develop oppositional consciousness in the service of racial justice and anti-imperialist efforts. My work is interdisciplinary, encompassing feminist, sociological and philosophical theories alongside historical methodologies.

By exploring three significant post-war, US social movements – women’s liberation and gay liberation movements alongside Black Power – my doctoral research accounted for the rise of anti-racism trainings within both leftist social movements and the wider US public. In other research projects, I have traced the shifting relationship between feminism, gender and anti-war efforts; recovered anti-racist feminisms obscured in contemporary historiography; and raised questions about the relationships amongst various sources of knowledge on race.

My on-going and future research projects are characterised by the historical study of gendered and racial knowledges and the impact of this thought on social, political and cultural life in the US. I am currently working on a monograph based on my dissertation which will examine the myth of white ejection from the Black Power movement.

Recent and Forthcoming Talks and Conferences

2015. Invited panellist, ‘Why Is My Curriculum White?’ University of Leeds launch event, University of Leeds Students’ Union.

2015. Invited panellist, ‘Black Lives Matter in the Fight against Climate Change’ at Leeds Tidal’s Building a Different Story gathering (Leeds, UK).

2015. Opening speaker, ‘Gender, Inequalities and Academic Careers in US History and American Studies’, School of History, University of Leeds, and the British Association of American Studies.

2015. ‘Resisting Racism: BWMT’s Workshops’, Invited keynote, National Association of Black and White Men Together, Newark, New Jersey.

2015. National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar, ‘Rethinking Black Freedom Studies from the Jim Crow North to the Jim Crow West’. Sarah Lawrence College.

2015. ‘What’s the Use of Women’s Suffrage? The Debate in Women’s Liberation’, paper on the panel Women, Gender and Knowledge Production in US History with Kate Dossett. British Association of American Studies Annual Conference, University of Northumbria.

2015. ‘The Counter Archive as Anti-Imperialist Resistance’, Invited talk, VIADUCT: Countering the Archive, University of Johannesburg.

2014. ‘Resisting Whiteness through Non-Traditional Archives’ at Vanley Burke: By the Rivers of Birmingham conference, University of Johannesburg.

2014. ‘Pam Allen, Feminist Racial Justice Activism and the Debunking of the Second Wave’s Master Historical Narrative’, Situating Women’s Liberation conference, University of Portsmouth.

2013. ‘The Workshop as the Work: Race and Ignorance in the US Women’s Liberation Movement’, Freedom, Rights and Power: Recasting Women’s Struggles across the Americas since 1900 conference, St. Mary’s University College.


Undergraduate Modules

Previously, I have taught at the University of York (Department of History) and guest lectured at Manchester Metropolitan University and for the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Leeds.

Level 2 

HIST 2351: The American Century, 1941-1980

HIST 2557: Thinking about History

Level 3

Special Subject: HIST 3220: Martin Luther King & the Civil Rights Movement

HIST3452: Constructing and Contesting Whiteness in the US, 1865-1975

Postgraduate Teaching

I convene one of the core courses for the MA Race and Resistance programme, 'Approaches to Race'.

I also convene and teach the option module HIST5964: Race and Second Wave Feminism in the US

Race and Resistance is an interdisciplinary programme that crosses geographical boundaries and offers students a conceptual and thematic education in approaches to race and resistance. I’m very happy to answer queries and discuss the programme with any prospective students.

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome research students interested in any aspect of social movements, gender and race in twentieth century U.S. history including: African American history; Women’s history; Black freedom struggles; and the intersections of race, knowledge and power.

Research students

Lauren McCarthy: Recovering a Black American Tradition of Animal Advocacy


Forthcoming (2016). ‘White Women, Anti-Imperialist Feminism and the Story of Race within the US Women’s Liberation Movement’, Women’s History Review, Special issue on Women’s Liberation Movements

2015. ‘The most progressive and forward looking race relations experiment in existence’: Race ‘Militancy’, Whiteness and DRRI in the Early 1970s’, Journal of American Studies 49(3)

2013. Critical Race and Whiteness Studies 9(1), Special issue on ‘New Territories in Critical Whiteness Studies’. Co-edited with Maddy Abbas Júlio Decker and Shona Hunter.

2013. ‘Locating Douglass Fitch: The Roots of Colour and Activist Traditions of US Whiteness Studies’, Critical Race and Whiteness Studies 9(1)

2012. ‘Understanding Antiwar Activism as a Gendering Activity: A Look at the U.S.’s Anti-Vietnam War Movement’, Journal of International Women’s Studies 13(6): 18-31. 

2011. ‘Coarse Offerings: Lessons from the Cambridge Women’s School for Today’s Radical Education Alternatives’. Graduate Journal of Social Sciences 8(2): 21-40. 

Other Academic Activity

Since 2014, I have been a Research Associate with the Research Centre Visual Identities in Art and Design at the University of Johannesburg.                   

Community Engagement

I regularly host Widening Participation workshops and give talks on African American, feminist and US social movement history. 

I have also worked with local campaigning groups, including JUST West Yorkshire, Leeds No Borders and Leeds Tidal.


Shortlisted, Student Essay Prize, Feminist and Women’s Studies Association, March 2012. 

Postgraduate Essay Prize. British Association of American Studies, April 2011. 

Peter Parish Award. British Association of American Studies, February 2010. 

School of History, University of Leeds. Awarded School of History PhD Scholarship, 2009-2012. 

Viola Rossing Prize for Excellence in Women’s Studies. Saint Olaf College, May 2006.