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.

Faculty:

Associates:

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.

2018-2019 Workshops

The Color of Belonging: Skin Tone and Attitudes Towards Ethnic Voting in India
Amit Ahuja
May 30, 2019

On Becoming Citizens of the ‘Non-Existent’: Syrian War-Time Migration in Abkhazia
Gehad Abaza
May 9, 2019

Racial Images Using the Biohazard Metaphor in US Media
Sinan Isik
April 24, 2019

Requirements:

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

Courses

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.

Three 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)

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.