B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Florida
B.S. Journalism, University of Florida
Ph.D. Communications, University of Pennsylvania
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246
Teaching, to me, is an act of mentorship. I view the classroom as a space where students can ask questions, pose challenges, experiment with ideas, and discuss key concerns about the world in a supportive environment. I see my role as a teacher in helping students think critically and creatively—about both course materials and society at large. The classroom is not a bubble separate from the rest of the world but rather a laboratory in which to understand it. I try to minimize the gap between what we study and the “real world” by animating the ways complex ideas and histories continue to structure our daily experiences and practices. My classes utilize a variety of mechanisms, from small group discussions and student-led presentations to a range of participatory activities, to work through core concepts. Learning is a collaborative process, done through individual and collective work, and my classes try to strike that balance. I hope that by participating in their own learning students will take intellectual risks—will engage new concepts thoughtfully and articulate taken-for-granted concepts differently.
Recent Courses Taught
BIS 256 Introduction to African American Studies
BIS 300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry
BISAMS 305: Power, Dissent, and American Culture
BCULST 500 Formations of Cultural Studies
BCULST 570 Prisons, Politics and Activism
I am an interdisciplinary historian focusing on critical race theory, twentieth century U.S. social movements, and critical prison studies. My research pursues a human accounting of how freedom and violence have shaped the United States in the twentieth century and continue to influence the world. Much of my work concerns the carceral state, including the diverse ways in which imprisonment has shaped social movements, racial identity, and American politics since World War II.
My book Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era won the 2015 James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians. The book shows that prisons produce a unique and influential form of antiracist politics. Prisons were a rite of passage among Civil Rights and Black Power activists, who turned the longstanding racial disparities in policing and incarceration into a dynamic part of the struggle for social justice. Drawing upon a political history that stretched back to slavery, black activists thrust the prison into public view. They established prisoners as symbols of racial oppression, and conceptualized confinement as a persistent feature of black life woven throughout the American polity. Their challenges to punishment persist in the age of mass incarceration.
I have published several other books, including Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity (which has been translated into French and German) and The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism. Currently, I am working on a textbook about the prison movement in the 20th century and an anthology of activism between 1970 and 2001. I am also working on a book about how social movements learn to govern outside the boundaries of the nation-state. As a firm believer in public scholarship, I have published essays in Al Jazeera America, Salon, the Seattle Times, and Truthout, among elsewhere. I serve on the advisory board of the UW’s Certificate on Public Scholarship, as well the journals Abolition and The Sixties, and I am an active member of the Critical Prison Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association.
Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era. North Carolina Press (Justice, Power, and Politics series), 2014.
The Struggle Within: Prisons, Political Prisoners, and Mass Movements in the United States. PM Press, 2014.
The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism. Rutgers University Press, 2010.
Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity. AK Press, 2006.
Letters from Young Activists. Nation Books, 2005.
“America Means Prison: Political Prisoners in the age of Black Power,” in Sylviane Diouf and Komozi Woodard, eds., Black Power 50: An Exhibition Catalog. The New Press, 2016.
“Subjugated Knowledges: Activism, Scholarship, and Ethnic Studies Ways of Knowing,” in Critical Ethnic Studies Editorial Collective, eds., Critical Ethnic Studies: A Reader. Duke University Press, 2016.
“‘A Common Citizenship of Freedom’: What Black Power Taught Chicago’s Puerto Rican independentistas,” in Brian Behnken, ed., Civil Rights and Beyond: African American and Latino/a Activism in the Twentieth Century United States. University of Georgia Press, 2016.
“Carceral Journeys: Blackness, Migration, and Slavery in 1970s California Prison Radicalism,” in Moon-Ho Jung, ed., Race, Radicalism and Repression on the Pacific Coast and Beyond. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014.
“Constructing Crime, Framing Disaster: Routines of Criminalization and Crisis in Hurricane Katrina,” Punishment and Society 11: 4 (2009).
“Rescuing Civil Rights from Black Power: Collective Memory and Saving the State in Twenty-First Century Prosecutions of 1960s-Era Cases,” Journal for the Study of Radicalism, 3: 1 (2009).