PLT Welcomes B. Brian Foster, Acclaimed Race and Place Scholar, to UVA

The Project on Lived Theology welcomes B. Brian Foster to the University of Virginia. Starting this fall, Foster will serve as an associate professor in UVA’s Department of Sociology.

Foster will come to UVA from the University of Mississippi, where he has been an assistant professor of sociology and Southern studies since 2016. His courses at “Ole Miss” have included Race, Place, and Space; Introduction to Southern Studies; and The Southern Protest Mixtape.

On his website, Foster explains how his public writing and research focus on questions of race and place: “I write about how places—especially Black communities—change; how those changes are curbed and spurned on by systems and policy; and how local people explain, contest, and live amidst it all.”

Foster’s book I Don’t Like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life (University of North Carolina Press, 2020) chronicles the town of Clarksdale, Mississippi, a place known widely as the “birthplace of the blues” and that has, since 1980, tried to use that title to kickstart local economic revitalization and community development efforts. Foster details how the Black residents of Clarksdale feel about those efforts.

Foster serves as director of the Mississippi Hill Country Oral History Collective, a community of scholars, students, and local people committed to recording and archiving the histories of Black (and other marginalized) communities across the thirty-county Mississippi Hill Country region.

Foster earned his BA from the University of Mississippi, and his MA and PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the American Sociological Association, among others. He has written for local, regional, and national platforms, including the Washington Post, CNN, and The Bitter Southerner. He has also co-directed and collaborated on two short films, How We Got Here and Road to Step.

“Based on his writing and research as well as his interests and passion, it’s quite clear that Brian’s scholarship closely aligns with the PLT mission,” said Charles Marsh, PLT director and religious studies professor at UVA. “The project welcomes Brian to UVA, and we look forward to working with him in the near future.”

To learn more about B. Brian Foster, visit

The Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia is a research initiative, whose mission is to study the social consequences of theological ideas for the sake of a more just and compassionate world.