Joe’s research focuses on the nexus between politics and culture in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on African American radicalism in the 1960s and 1970s and the San Francisco Bay Area after World War Two. He has a particular interest 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 as played out in cultural, political, educational, and social spheres.
His current projects include studies of the representation of Silicon Valley in popular culture and the racial politics of the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Joe has a long-standing interest in the history of the Black Panther Party, which reaches back to his undergraduate studies. Building on 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, Joe’s full-length history of the BPP will be published by the University of Georgia Press.
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.
As 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, Joe published groundbreaking work on Malcolm X’s impact on racial politics in the West Midlands and two pieces which evaluate the impact and 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. Chiefly remembered for coining the term ‘Northern Soul,’ Godin was central to the development of soul music culture in the UK. As this research strand suggests, Joe has a keen interest in the development of African American popular music in the late twentieth century.
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.
PhD, History30 Jun 2003 - 31 Dec 2099
Senior Fellow (SFHEA), Higher Education Academy (HEA)8 May 2015 -