Professor Cunningham’s research is focused on the scope, organization and legacy of racial contention. His past work centers on the Ku Klux Klan, in particular the complex roles that the klan played in various communities throughout the 1960s and the enduring impacts of KKK activity on contemporary voting patterns and crime rates.
Cunningham joined Washington University in the fall of 2015 from his previous appointment as Professor of Sociology and department chair at Brandeis University. His current research, focused on the scope, organization, and legacy of racial contention, is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. Professor Cunningham's past work centers on the Ku Klux Klan, in particular the complex roles that the klan played in various communities throughout the 1960s and the enduring impacts of KKK activity on contemporary voting patterns and crime rates. His recent book Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan (Oxford University Press, 2013) has been featured on NPR's Fresh Air, CBS News, the Miller Center Forum, and in a PBS American Experience documentary film. An ongoing project examines the organization and enforcement of segregation under Jim Crow, as well as how related historical patterns continue to matter today. A recipient of Brandeis University's Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer '69 and Joseph Neubauer Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring, Professor Cunningham has directed a number of intensive field-based programs on the causes and consequences of social conflict.