Dr. Brittany VandeBerg

Associate Chair
Associate Professor


  • PhD University of Toronto, Geography
  • MS University of Wisconsin-Madison, Urban and Regional Planning
  • BA University of Wisconsin-Madison, Political Science

Research Areas

  • Maritime Piracy
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Gender and Crime
  • Legal Geographies
  • Africa


Dr. VandeBerg’s research and teaching focus on the interrelations of space, power, violence, and law. Her current international research agenda examines the diffusion and transformation of piracy laws and related criminal justice institutions in East Africa. Locally, she and Dr. Dewey are collaborating on a project funded by the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research (NCGVR) exploring the demographic, temporal, relational, and environmental dynamics surrounding gun violence in the greater Tuscaloosa, Alabama region. Dr. VandeBerg is a former consultant with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Counter Piracy Programme and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Somalia Fisheries Sector.


Selected Publications

Gilmer, B. and Dewey, S. (2022) Captive calculations and benevolent abandonment: Ransom piracy and the carceral occupation of hostage ships off the coast of Somalia. Political Geography. 95: 1-9.

Gilmer, B. and Wakeham, J. (2021). Between Ransom and Release: Exploring Caringscapes of Somali Piracy Hostage Incidents. Journal of the Middle East and Africa. 12(3): 301-319.

Wakeham, J., and Gilmer, B. (2020) Care in Uncaring Places: Exploring Somali Piracy Hostage Incidents. British Journal of Criminology. 60(5): 1242-1259.

Gilmer, Brittany. (2019) Invisible Pirates: Women and the Gendered Roles of Somali Piracy. Feminist Criminology. 14(3): 371-388.

Gilmer, Brittany and Britanee Kane. (2019) Counter Piracy Programming and Potential Barriers to Reintegrating Pirates: An African Restorative Justice Critique. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice. 58: 12-21.

Gilmer, Brittany and Caroline Comerford. (2019) Promoting pirate prisons: exploring the intersections of narratives, media, and criminal justice reform in East Africa. Crime, Law and Social Change. 71(4): 403-421.

Gilmer, B. (2017) Hedonists and Husbands: Piracy Narratives, Gender Demands, and Local Political Economic Realities in Somalia. Third World Quarterly. 38(6): 1366-1380.

Gilmer, Brittany. (2017) Somali Piracy Prisoners and Biopolitical Penal Aid in East Africa. Punishment & Society. 19(1): 115-131.

Gilmer, B. (2016) Fishermen, Pirates, and the Politics of Aid: An Analysis of the Somali Fishermen Registration Programme. Geoforum. 77: 106-113.