Berger is an interdisciplinary historian. His 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 his work concerns the carceral state, including the diverse ways in which imprisonment has shaped social movements, racism, and American politics since World War II.
His 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. Berger’s latest work, Rethinking the American Prison Movement, coauthored with Toussaint Losier, provides a survey of prisoner activism in the 20th century.
Berger is also the co-curator of the Washington Prison History Project, a digital archive of prisoner activism and prison policy in our state. He also blogs regularly for Black Perspectives (a publication of the African American Intellectual History Society) and has published articles in Dissent, Salon, the Seattle Times, Truthout, and the Washington Post, among elsewhere..
Research/Teaching Areas: Critical race theory, Twentieth century U.S. social movements, Critical prison studies, Histories of Radicalism, Histories of Activism
Current Projects/Research: An anthology of American activism between 1970 and 2001 (with Emily Hobson).