Dan Berger

Dan Berger


Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Scholarship

B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Florida
B.S. Journalism, University of Florida
Ph.D. Communications, University of Pennsylvania 

Office: UW2-308
Phone: 425-352-3744
Email: daberger@uw.edu
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 336: History of Mass Incarceration
BISAES 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, racism, 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, and that Black Power activists turned the longstanding racial disparities in policing and incarceration into a dynamic part of the struggle for social justice. My latest book is Rethinking the American Prison Movement, coauthored with Toussaint Losier. It provides a survey of prisoner activism in the 20th century. With Emily Hobson I am coediting an anthology of American activism between 1970 and 2001. 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

I am a firm believer in public scholarship. I co-curate the Washington Prison History Project, a digital archive of prisoner activism and prison policy in our state. I also blog regularly for Black Perspectives (a publication of the African American Intellectual History Society) and have published articles in Dissent, Salon, the Seattle TimesTruthout, and the Washington Post, among elsewhere. At the UW, I serve on the advisory board of the Certificate on Public Scholarship and am an affiliate member of the Center for Human Rights, the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, and the UW Seattle Department of History. Beyond the university, I am on the advisory board of the journals AbolitionJournal of Civil and Human Rights, and The Sixties and am an active member of the Critical Prison Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association.  

Selected Publications

Rethinking the American Prison Movement (Routledge, 2018; coauthored with Toussaint Losier).

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).