Caleb Dawson

Caleb E. Dawson is a community organizer, dancer, and Black feminist ethnographer from Federal Way, Wash. Caleb indulges in reimagining and redistributing state-sanctioned resources to build life-affirming institutions that sustain state-forsaken peoples.

A PhD candidate in Critical Studies of Race, Class, and Gender, Caleb engages in humanistic social science research about antiblackness in higher education and the myriad ways Black folk survive and create life amidst antiblack social structures. His dissertation ethnographically investigates what it takes for Black campus leaders to contest antiblackness at the University of California, Berkeley, from 2014 to 2022. In doing so, he analyzes the challenges and supports Black leaders encounter, as well as how gender and organizational status position shape experiences of possibility and, in some cases, more problems. Beyond his dissertation, Caleb's research agenda addresses the racialized and gendered political economies of for-profit colleges and student loan debt.

As lead investigator of Black Lives at Cal (BLAC), a multi-year initiative about Black history at UC Berkeley, Caleb proudly merges his passion for qualitative research and mentorship with his project management skills. Through BLAC, Caleb arranges for graduate and undergraduate students to collaborate in researching and preserving otherwise overlooked histories, and make this research accessible to the public.

Caleb's research agenda and scholarly collaborations have been supported by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues; the Social Science Matrix; the Black Studies Collaboratory; the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment; the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership; the Townsend Center for the Humanities; the Center for Race and Gender; and more.

Specializations and Interests

Sociology of Race and (Higher) Education; Gendered Racial Capitalism; Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging; Antiblackness and Activism; Qualitative Methodologies

portrait image of doctoral student caleb dawson


MA, Education, UC Berkeley

BA, Sociology and Economics, Gonzaga University

Minor, Women and Gender Studies, Gonzaga University

Certificate, Comprehensive Leadership Program, Gonzaga University

Certificate, Latin American Studies, Universidad Adalfo Ibañez