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Plummer, Brenda Gayle (1946–) - Haitian History; U.S. Foreign Policy

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Brenda Gayle Plummer was born on October 20, 1946, in Durham, North Carolina, of African-American ancestry. Her mother was a factory worker; her father was a laborer. She attended public and private schools in New York City as a child, then Antioch College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1969. An interest, as she puts it, “in how society works so it can be changed” led her to study history, and she completed a master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1973, and a Ph.D. in history at Cornell University in 1981. Plummer also participated in graduate study programs at Vanderbilt University and the University of Ibadan in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Plummer’s first academic position was as instructor at Fisk University from 1973 to 1975. From 1979 to 1981 she was lecturer and research fellow in the black studies department and Center for Black Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. When she completed the Ph.D., in 1981, Plummer accepted a position as assistant professor of history at the University of Minnesota; in 1987 she was promoted to associate professor. While at the University of Minnesota Plummer also taught as adjunct professor in the department of Afro-American and African studies. In 1991 she accepted a position as associate professor of history and Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she was promoted to professor in 1994 and continues to teach.

Plummer has provided a great deal of consulting experience as well. She spent the 1990–1991 academic year working as a Knight Foundation Consultant at Macalester College. She worked on a program to provide resources for the incorporation into the college of faculty of color. She was also a curricular consultant for “Caribbean Connections: Classroom Resources for Secondary Schools,” a project of the Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean, and the Network of Educators’ Committees on Central America, in 1989. Earlier in her career, in 1977, Plummer was a member of the Revision Project for the New York State College Proficiency Examination in Afro-American History. She has also provided professional service as an associate editor of the journal Signs from 1990 to 1992, as a manuscript reader for Signs and for three university presses, and as a member of the advisory board for Dictionary of Twentieth Century Culture , Volume 3, an African-American culture project for Greenwood Press.

The author of two published books, one book in press, and eleven book chapters and scholarly articles, Plummer has studied the diplomatic relations between Haiti and the United States. Her most recent work, Haiti and the United States: The Psychological Moment , explores the way in which racism has affected the relationship between the United States and Haiti since the late eighteenth century. As Alfred Hunt puts it, Plummer’s important work “offers a well-written and balanced survey of a relationship that is quite odd in its complexity.” Her next book, which will be published by the University of North Carolina Press, is Rising Wind: Foreign Affairs and the Afro-American Freedom Struggle, 1935–1960 . Plummer’s current research interests include Afro-Americans and the Cold War, and race, gender, and the Cold War.

Brenda Plummer’s most recent fellowship was with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where she was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow from January to June 1994. She has also received a Social Sciences Research Council fellowship in foreign policy studies, a University of California at Los Angeles Institute of American Cultures postdoctoral fellowship, and a Dorothy Danforth Compton Foundation fellowship. Since 1994 she has held a Vilas Associateship from the Vilas Trust at the University of Wisconsin.

Brenda Plummer’s partner is Donald Culverson. She is the mother of one child, Robert. Her interests include photography and gardening.

Plunkett, Walter [next] [back] Pliny (the Elder),

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