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Research interests

Joe’s research focuses on the nexus between politics and culture in the late twentieth century, with a particular focus on the San Francisco Bay Area in the period between the 1960s and the 2010s. His work encompasses African American radicalism, Silicon Valley ideology, and Bay Area literature, cinema, and popular culture. He is increasingly interested in pursuing inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches to these histories and is currently thinking about the relationship between public space and racial politics in the Bay Area. The first fruits of this project appeared as an article that revealed the racial subtexts in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, one of the most famous works of the great science fiction writer and Bay Area native, Philip K. Dick.

This long-term project follows the publication of his Silicon Valley Cinema (Edinburgh University Press, 2023), which probes Hollywood's representation of Silicon Valley in a selection of twenty-first century films, including VenomThe Social Network, and The Internship. It also builds on Joe's long-standing interest in the Black Panther Party. Following a series of scholarly articles that evaluate the historiography of the BPP, the impact of prison and solitary confinement on the BPP founder Huey P. Newton, and the BPP’s campaign to free Newton, Black Revolutionaries: A History of the Black Panther Party will be published by the University of Georgia Press in 2024.

Joe has also published work on the representation of San Francisco in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 movie, Dirty Harry. This was expanded into Dirty Harry’s America: Clint Eastwood, Harry Callahan and the Conservative Backlash (University Press of Florida, 2016), a study of the relationship between the Dirty Harry series and conservative politics in the 1970s and 1980s, which highlights the parallels between the political message of the movies and the political rhetoric of conservative leaders such as Ronald Reagan. Described as 'the last word on Dirty Harry' it is an ideal present for the Eastwood fan in your life.

Earlier in his career, Joe was one of a number of British scholars who reconsidered the influence of the African American struggle on racial politics in the UK during the 1960s. He published groundbreaking evaluations of Malcolm X’s impact on racial politics in the West Midlands and the significance of African American soul music on British youth in the 1960s. This led to further study of Dave Godin, a legendary figure in the British soul scene. 

Delving further back in time, Joe’s first monograph, The Culture War in the Civil Rights Movement (University Press of Florida, 2007) revealed the impact of cultural forms such as theater and music on the African American civil rights movement during the 1960s. From the singing workshops of the Highlander Folk School to the Black Panther Party’s Ministry for Culture it argued that ‘cultural organizing’ was central to the civil right movement’s operation.


Joe Street was educated at Sheffield University between 1996 and 2004. He joined Northumbria in 2009 after stints in the History Departments at Sheffield University and the University of Kent. An enthusiastic but sadly limited footballer who specialised in pointing and shouting, Joe was forced to end his anonymous playing career in 2012 due to injury, an event that was met with universal indifference. He spends a lot of time watching the mighty Heaton Stannington FC.

Between 2013 and 2019 Joe sat on the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies, chairing its Publications Committee between 2016 and the end of his term. Alongside Professor Martin Halliwell, he is a Series Editor of Edinburgh University Press's Critical Insights in American Studies series. He is also a member of Historians of the Twentieth-Century United States and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Between 2010 and 2015 he was Programme Leader for History. He also serves as the UCU representative for History staff and is Vice Chair of Northumbria's UCU branch.

He teaches across History and American Studies at Northumbria, including offering modules on the San Francisco Bay Area, the American West, the Black Panther Party, and the relationship between History and popular film. For more information on Joe's research interests, please see the Research Themes and Scholarly Interests tab. Please note that the 'Key Publications' section is populated and formatted automatically by the University.

Education/Academic qualification

History, PhD

30 Jun 200331 Dec 2099

Award Date: 30 Jun 2004


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