Politics of Identity

The study of the politics of identity is a cross-cutting research area that draws faculty from all areas of the discipline.  Faculty and students interested in identity examine it as both cause and effect, studying the ways in which race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and other politically relevant factors shape political behavior and attitudes.  We also explore the ways in which identities are constituted, and what this means for politics.

Our research and teaching address the powerful role played by ethnicity, religion, and race in politics across the world.  Our faculty and students work on many dimensions of identity, but we have particular expertise in public opinion, social mobilization, immigration, and citizenship. We seek to understand how these shape and are shaped by ethnicity, religion, and race.  We approach identity as a crucial factor in politics in many areas of the globe, including the United States, and our faculty have wide-ranging area expertise that they bring to bear on large questions of political identity.

Visit our Identity Workshop Events section to view upcoming events in Identity Politics.



The Identity Politics group encourages the participation in programs across the UCSB campus. We collaborate with a number of related groups and departments. These collaborators include Sociology, History- Comparative Race and Ethnicity, the Broom Center for Demography, and the Center for Middle East Studies; and the departments of Anthropology, Asian American Studies, Black Studies, Chicano Studies, Feminist Studies, Global Studies, Linguistics, and Religious Studies.

Identity Workshops and Sponsored Events:

The Identity Politics group sponsors three workshops a quarter at which students and faculty from across UCSB present their ongoing research.  Students present their papers in identity politics (see requirements) and are also encouraged to present seminar papers, conference papers, draft articles and chapters of their dissertation for discussion and feedback.  In addition to regular workshops, the identity group sponsors lectures by outside experts in the identity field.



Thursday, April 29, 2021 from 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Workshop: Clarifying the “People Like Me”: Racial Efficacy & its Effects on Political Behavior (with UCI doctoral student Nathan Chan)
Associate Professor Davin Phoenix, Political Science at the University of California, Irvine.
View paper

Friday, May 7, 2021 from 8:30 am - 4:00 pm

Event: Politics of Race, Immigration, and Ethnicity Conference
A full day of exciting presentations. Complete program available here.

Thursday, May 20, 2021 from 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Workshop: Political Geography as Epiphenomenal?: Using Redlining to Understand the Spatial Interplay Between Race, Class, and Politics
Chris Miljanich, Graduate Student, UCSB
View paper; View flyer

Zoom ID: 892 9473 0466

Thursday, May 27, 2021 from 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Workshop: Willing Ethnic-Nationalists, Diffusion, and Resentment in India: A Micro-Foundational Account (co-author, Dr. Manisha Priyam)
Aseema Sinha, Wagener Professor of South Asian Politics and George R. Roberts Fellow, Claremont McKenna College, CA
View paper; View flyer

Zoom ID: 828 8062 0304


Refugee Regime in the Ottoman Middle East
Professor Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky, Dept. of Global Studies

Thursday, January 14, 2021 from 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Zoom ID: TBD

Sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and Identity Politics, Dept. of Political ScienceFall


The Dynamics of Refugee Return:  Syrian Refugees and Their Migration Intentions
Professor Daniel Masterson, Dept. of Political Science

Thursday, November 19, 2020 from 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Zoom ID: 843 7437 3779

Sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and Identity Politics, Dept. of Political Science

Mobilizing the marginalized: Ethnic parties without ethnic movements

Professor Amit Ahuja, Dept. of Political Science

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 from 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Zoom ID: 842 4656 4996

Sponsored by the Department of Global Studies as part the Global Studies Colloquium Series


Event & Workshop: Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in France
Thursday, November 7th, 2019 from 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Ellison Hall, Lane Room 3824

Event: Why White Women Vote for Trump
Friday, December 6th, 2019 from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
McCune Conference Center, HSSB 6220


Workshop: The Color of Belonging: Skin Tone and Attitudes Towards Ethnic Voting in India
May 30, 2019
Ellison Hall, Lane Room 3824

Workshop: On Becoming Citizens of the ‘Non-Existent’: Syrian War-Time Migration in Abkhazia
May 9, 2019
Ellison Hall, Lane Room 3824

Workshop: Racial Images Using the Biohazard Metaphor in US Media
April 24, 2019
Ellison Hall, Pritchett Room 3814


Identity Politics can be selected as a secondary field in conjunction with one of the traditional fields. The Politics of Identity is distinct from traditional sub-fields. Its theories, concepts, and empirical work incorporate expertise from across the traditional sub-fields and it is interdisciplinary in nature.

Click here for a printable version of the Politics of Identity requirements.

Areas of Specialization

The areas of specialization allow for a wide-range of interests including political theory, human rights, policy analysis, international relations (ethnic conflict, civil war), comparative and American politics (ethnicity and political parties, social movements, democratic development), religion, immigrants, and demography among others.

  • Ethnic & Identity Conflict1
  • Ethnic/Racial Politics (Comparative and American Politics)
  • Intersectionality (Gender, Sexuality, Race, Class, Religion)
  • Migration and Citizenship
  • Theories and Concepts of Identity


All students wishing to complete the identity sub-field are required to take 2 courses from the 3 core courses offered on a rotating basis within the department. At least one of the 3 courses are offered each academic year.  These include PS281 Kaplan, PS 263 Lien, and PS594 Migration Bruhn.  The following faculty from within the identity group - Kaplan, Ahuja, Bruhn and Lien- are responsible for the core courses.

Four courses from which two courses must be taken:

PS 263        Race/Gender in American Politics (Lien)
PS 281        Comparative Ethnic Politics (Kaplan)
PS 594        Immigration and Identity (Bruhn)
PS 594        Politics of Migration (Masterson)

Pre-approved courses offered in the Department of Political Science as Electives:

Each of the courses listed below contains a component focused on identity.  Graduate students can select 2 courses as electives from this list with the agreement of their advisor.  The courses should constitute a specialization in one of the areas of specialization as listed above.

PS 232             Politics of Economic Development (Ahuja)
PS 236             Democratization in Comparative Perspective ( Bruhn)
PS 237             Social Movements/Collective Action (Ahuja)
PS 243             Political Concepts, Rights and Human Rights (Digeser)
PS 251             Political Representation (Stoll)
PS 252             Public Opinion and Political Participation (Smith)
​PS 594             Civil Conflict and Intrastate War (Coggins)
PS 594             Political Institutions (Stoll)

Additional Elective Courses from Outside the Department:

Departments offering identity related courses include Anthropology, Black Studies, Chicano/Chicana Studies, Communications, East Asian Language and Culture, Feminist Studies, Gervitz School of Education, Global Studies, History, Linguistics, Psychology and Brain Sciences, Religious Studies, Sociology.

Identity Workshop

Students who declare identity as a field within political science are required to attend the identity workshops with credit given (1 credit per quarter).  Students must present their papers in the Politics of Identity at one of the workshops.

Research Paper

A publishable research paper is required. Students will present their papers at the Identity Workshop and we will urge them to present their paper at a professional association meeting. Our intention is that the research paper is submitted for publication, but we do not require that it be published to complete the Identity Field.  

[1]Ethnic and identity conflict can include a focus on conflict in one or more of the following traditional subfields:  international relations, comparative politics, and American politics.