Introducing Professor Bianca Dang

Submitted by Alexandra Colley Dusablon on

This fall we are welcoming a new historian to the history department faculty, Professor Bianca Dang. Professor Dang received her training at Stanford and Yale, where she specialized in American history and African American studies. History students have had the chance to study with Professor Dang in an introductory colloquium this fall, and she will teach lecture and seminar courses this winter

Professor Dang joins the department as the Donald W. Logan Family Endowed Chair in American History. The Logan Chair was created in 2007 with a generous gift to the department from the former Husky and Seattle Public Schools history teacher Don Logan. Its purpose was to strengthen the department’s research and teaching of nineteenth-century U.S. history, especially with regard to the histories of the Civil War, Emancipation, and Reconstruction. Thanks to this gift, the department has succeeded in recruiting an excellent scholar whose work breaks new ground in the transnational history of race, gender, and freedom struggles in the United States and Haiti.

Professor Dang’s research is rooted in the nineteenth century but speaks to recent trends in historical scholarship and, more broadly, to the ongoing struggle for a more equitable world. She has presented papers across the United States and at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, as her approach is highly regarded in the field. Her research agenda is guided by Black women’s history and Black feminist theory. In particular, she looks at the history of Black women’s activism and the intersections between gender and Black movements for freedom throughout the Western Hemisphere. She centers the history of Black women’s activism because, as she says, it is “crucial for developing critical social theory that can be used to enact new, more equitable tomorrows.”

This link between scholarship and social justice is central to Professor Dang’s teaching philosophy as well. When asked why she chose history teaching as a vocation, she answered:

As a non-Black Asian-Latinx scholar invested in confronting and opposing anti-Blackness in my personal and scholarly communities, one of the major reasons I became a history teacher is to offer courses that not only illuminate how foundational anti-Blackness has been to the history of the hemisphere, but also emphasize how the struggles of Black people throughout history have critically informed liberation movements today. By documenting the lives, labors, hopes, dreams, and challenges that people in the past faced, I emphasize that history has not “ended” and how a deep engagement with Black history is critical for understanding our present. By putting historical material in conversation with current events, I ask students to consider how we, just like the historical actors we read about, are shaping history every day. Further, through a deep engagement with nineteenth-century Black social movements, I hope my classes encourage students to consider how contemporary social justice pursuits and antiracist activism can address and dismantle anti-Black racism.

Students will be able to choose from several courses offered by Professor Dang in the coming months. In fall quarter, she is teaching the Introduction to History Colloquium on the topic of gender and nineteenth-century African American history. While building foundational skills in primary-source analysis and crafting historical arguments, students will consider the major events of U.S. history from the perspective of African Americans. In winter quarter, Professor Dang will teach a lecture course on the Civil War and Reconstruction era, using African American social history as a lens through which to examine these crucial years. She will also offer a seminar on the various yet interconnected movements for Black freedom in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean during the nineteenth century.