Dr George Francis-Kelly

Dr George Francis-Kelly
Dr George Francis-Kelly

Dr George Francis-Kelly

Lecturer

About

Room 212, Crombie Annexe

Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History

Biography

Originally from London, I completed my BA in History and MA in American History at the University of Sheffield between 2011-2015, and my PhD at the University of Leeds from 2016-2020, as well as teaching at both universities. I have been a White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities-funded PhD student and a Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow, and have recently seen two of my articles published in the Journal of American Studies and Journal of Civil and Human Rights.


Realising that my previous move to Yorkshire was a very amatuer effort to move as far away from my friends and family as possible, I took up a post as a Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Aberdeen in September 2021. I'll be primarily teaching in areas of US history in the twentieth century, trying to convince students that Urban History is, actually, quite cool, and cursing my own technological ineptitude as I struggle to use the printer correctly. I can be found complaining loudly in Room 212 of Crombie Annexe.

Latest Publications

  • The Wheels on the Bus: The Tourism Industry Development Council and Envisioning Spatial Futures in post-Rodney King Los Angeles

    Francis-Kelly, G.
    Journal of American Studies, pp. 1-25
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • ‘“We Must Not Let These Stores That Trade on Human Misery Proliferate”: Black Activism, Spatial Justice, and Liquor Stores in South Central Los Angeles, 1984-1994

    Francis-Kelly, G.
    Journal of Civil and Human Rights, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 1-25
    Contributions to Journals: Articles

View My Publications

Research

Research Overview

My research explores the intersections of space and identity in urban social movements in the United States in the twentieth century.

My work starts with the belief that the spaces around us are not just neutral containers through which events happen - they can actively shape our undertanding of race, gender, class, sexuality, and power. In turn, the ways in which our identities are constructed can also change our approach to the spaces around us - how we imagine the places that we live and those in other areas, and how we feel these spaces can best be used.

My research has worked to show that exploring 'the spatial', while it often seems like a complicated concept, can actually provide us with a new way of looking at race in American history, and understanding what movements for social justice actually wanted to achieve in material terms. By focusing on how activists looked to claim spaces, transform them, or re-imagine their possibilities, we can see a more ambitious picture of how these movements worked to improve the world around them.


Research Areas

Research Specialisms

  • American Studies
  • Urban Studies
  • American History

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

I am currently working on two research projects: the first works to transform my PhD thesis into a monograph. In Placing Rodney King, I explore African American and Latinx activists working in Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s, the years surrounding the catastrophic 1992 Rodney King Crisis. Despite popular culture and previous academic work seeing this 'riot' as the reaction of a desperate, disenfranchised and nihilistic 'underclass', I demonstrate that grassroots social movements were widespread in the city in the years before and after the worst instance of urban unrest in modern American history. More than this, organising often focused on reacting to development (or lack thereof) taking place in low-income communities at a time of dramatic change for the city.

My second project works to reinterpret histories of activism in the 'Long 1960s'. The New Left and US Counterculture are often seen as poorly-planned youthful rebellion, lacking clear direction. Conservative politicians often lament their turn towards a less ordered and more permissive society, while liberals often celebrate their work, but feel their achievements are usually restricted to the cultural realm - sex, drugs, and rock and roll, etc. I suggest that instead, if we look at how the redevelopment of urban and suburban spaces - campuses, bohemian districts, and downtowns - provided both a cause and a goal for these protestors, we can find a new way of understanding both the story of the New Left in America, and a more nuanced way of measuring their legacy.

Teaching
Publications

Page 1 of 1 Results 1 to 2 of 2

  • The Wheels on the Bus: The Tourism Industry Development Council and Envisioning Spatial Futures in post-Rodney King Los Angeles

    Francis-Kelly, G.
    Journal of American Studies, pp. 1-25
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • ‘“We Must Not Let These Stores That Trade on Human Misery Proliferate”: Black Activism, Spatial Justice, and Liquor Stores in South Central Los Angeles, 1984-1994

    Francis-Kelly, G.
    Journal of Civil and Human Rights, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 1-25
    Contributions to Journals: Articles