Regional Studies Fellows Delve into Research Projects Related to the Mid-South

Memphis, Tennessee road and bridge

Brian Burgess ’20, a business major at Rhodes, has been studying this summer the social impacts of Black-owned businesses. “I’ve gotten to meet and interview some amazing owners and community leaders who are working every day to make sure they make an impact in the African American community, and it comes solely out of the love they have for Memphis,” he says. “Black entrepreneurs are essential for the city to be able to grow and reach its full potential. I am inspired by all of these leaders and the work that they do. It’s been one of the most enlightening experiences in my life.”

Burgess is one of nine fellows in the eight-week Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies. Much in the same way that college students go abroad to absorb the culture of a specific country, the fellows explore Memphis and the Mid-South through field excursions, focused academic research, faculty mentorship, and more. New this year, the program welcomed a scholar-in-residence—Dr. Ashanté Reese of Spelman College. Reese is no stranger to Rhodes, having served as Rhodes’ 2014-2015 William Randolph Hearst Teaching Fellow in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. Her area of expertise includes race, space, and food. 

The research conducted by fellows is based on questions they have about the region, and this year’s projects are: 

  • “The Exploitation of Female Slaves in the Urban Deep South”- Sarah Eiland
  • “Growing the American Pie: The Exploration into the Social Impacts of Black-Owned Businesses”- Brian Burgess
  • “‘Ideologies of Control’: Understanding the Discourse of Intimate Partner Violence in Memphis, TN”- Hannah McCarty
  • “Who Dies, Who Lives, Who Tells the Story: The Historical Struggle Between Black MSMs & HIV/AIDS”- Jamarr McCain
  • “The Memphis Sound: A Journey through a Wave of Music”- Andre’ Moore
  • “Memphis Electronic Music: Finding Soul in the Age of Lifeless Machines”- Marcus Tate:
  • “The Optional Program: Barriers to Black Student Enrollment in AP/Honors in Shelby County Schools”- Christal Scott
  • “Spotlighting Resistance and Liberation in Black Theatre”- Alea Curry 
  • “Good Intentions: A Memphis Story”- Emily Burkhead

Fellows will make presentations to the campus community July 23-24. The Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies is made possible by the generous support of the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust of Wichita Falls, TX, and the Mike Curb Family Foundation. All Rhodes Institute fellows receive housing, research expenses, and stipends. For more information about the program visit here