Dan Berger has been writing about the history of twentieth century US social movements for almost two decades. An associate professor of comparative ethnic studies at the University of Washington Bothell and affiliate associate professor of history at the UW Seattle, he regularly contributes journalistic commentary on issues of policing, prisons, and activism. He blogs for Black Perspectives, the online publication of the African American Intellectual History Society, and has published articles in Dissent, Jacobin, Truthout, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. Dan coordinates the Washington Prison History Project, a digital archive which gathers documentary evidence of prisoner activism in the Pacific Northwest in the age of mass incarceration.
In 2005, Dan co-edited the anthology Letters From Young Activists, which gathered writings from young people around the country. The next year, he published Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity. The book provided the first in depth account of the rise and fall of the controversial 1970s-era anti-imperialist organization from its antecedents in the Students for Democratic Society to successive clandestine efforts to combat racism and imperialism. That effort heightened his interest in studying the history of the carceral state as a form of political repression. In Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era , published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2014, he showed incarcerated people to be at the center of civil rights and Black Power organizing. The book won the 2015 James A. Rawley Prize for the best book dealing with the history of race relations in the United States from the Organization of American Historians. It locates the origins of mass incarceration in campaigns against Black radicals—who resisted such advances through protest and print culture that continue to inspire opposition to mass incarceration.