Stephen Berrey’s research and writing explore the relationship between race and culture in the 20th century U.S. He is particularly interested in the cultural and social history of racial practices in everyday life. His first book, The Jim Crow Routine: Everyday Performances of Race, Civil Rights, and Segregation in Mississippi, examined the daily interactions of black Southerners and white Southerners in Mississippi in the last decades of Jim Crow rule and during the civil rights movement. Conceiving of race and racial interactions as performative, he argues that Jim Crow was regularly made, unmade, and remade in the ways that black people and white people moved and interacted within this oppressive racial system. He shows, too, that even as formal segregation ended, white people and those in power made adjustments to preserve white privilege and extend racial disparities into a post-Jim Crow world.
His current project is a cultural history of whiteness in small-town America. Spanning the 20th century and encompassing the North, the Midwest, and the West, this study draws on local histories, amateur blackface performances, and interracial encounters to understand the making of race and culture in the (demographically) whitest places in the nation.
- Department of American Culture
Field(s) of Study
- Race and culture
- African American History
- U.S. South
- 20th-century United States
- cultural history