Dr. Dean Ferguson
Dr. Dean Ferguson
With apologies to Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf, “I am a nightsoil man.” [Repeat.] “I am a nightsoil man.” As a student of the “wretched of the earth,” to borrow from Frantz Fanon, I have been most interested in those who cleaned latrines, scavenged from trash heaps, labored as porters and rickshaw men, peddled second hand clothes or otherwise fulfilled roles in early modern European cities, and across the modern world, which earned them little but scorn. As a historian, I see my role as akin to a scavenger, searching for scraps, bits and pieces of evidence of forgotten people, cast into the realm of the abject with the emergence of the modern capitalist system.
As a child of missionary parents, I lived in Burundi, Africa until age 18 before returning to university in the United States. An inspiring seventh-grade teacher—shout out to Nancy Proctor Grimes—shared her love of history with me and I have been hooked since. After a detour as a high school history teacher in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, I went to Purdue University to study under James R. Farr, a specialist in early modern France. In 1998, Texas A&M University—Kingsville offered me a position. And, as they say, (whoever they are) the rest is history.
In my spare time I dream about one-day taking a trip across Africa on a BMW R1200 GS adventure bike, or living on the island of Lamu, but I do so while lying on the couch watching Premiership matches on any given Saturday morning. Just as I root for the nightsoil man, I don’t support the big four (Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, or Liverpool) but find myself drawn to the teams in the relegation fight or those just promoted, almost always predictably to have my hopes dashed. Repeat chorus. “I am a nightsoil man.” Again. “I am a nightsoil man.”
Texas A&M University-Kingsville
700 University Blvd. MSC 165
Kingsville, Texas 78363-8202
Rhode Hall 316
This page was last updated on: November 23, 2011