Sociology Faculty

Camilla Hawthorne
  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Sociology Department
    • Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Affiliations Science & Justice Research Center, Legal Studies
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Rachel Carson College Academic Building, 204
  • Office Hours Tuesdays 2:00-5:00; and by appointment (sign up online at
  • Mail Stop Rachel Carson College Faculty Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High St.
    • Santa Cruz California 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Sociology, African Diaspora, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, African American / Black Studies, Immigration, Activism, Discrimination and Inequality, Labor and Social Movements
  • Courses SOCY117E: Migrant Europe, SOCY105B: Contemporary Social Theory, SOCY170P: The Political Economy of Race, SOCY290W: Black Geographies, SOCY240: Identity and Inequality

Summary of Expertise

I am a critical human geographer and interdisciplinary social scientist broadly interested in the racial politics of migration and citizenship, inequality, social movements, and Black geographies. My work sits at the intersection of critical public policy studies, diaspora theory, Black European studies, and postcolonial/feminist science and technology studies.


I currently serve as Chair of the Black Geographies Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers. I am an executive committe member of California Italian Studies, a member of the editorial boards of Environment and Planning D: Society & SpaceCritical Ethnic Studies, and Dialogues in Human Geography. In addition, I am project manager and faculty member of the Black Europe Summer School, a two-week intensive course on citizenship, race, and ethnic relations held each summer in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Research Interests

Our current moment is characterized by the largest international mass migrations of people in recent history and the resurgence of explicitly racist, xenophobic nationalisms. Southern Europe stands at the forefront of these global transformations. Over one million refugees and asylum-seekers, many from sub-Saharan Africa, have crossed the Mediterranean Sea since 2015, and their presence in European countries has been met with varying degrees of marginalization and outright violence. Scholars have responded by studying the lived experiences of refugees, border securitization, and solidarity movements. Comparatively understudied, however, are concurrent contestations oriented on national citizenship. The most prominent of these is the movement to reform Italian nationality law and provide a path to citizenship for nearly one million children of immigrants born in Italy. 

My current book project Citizenship and Diasporic Ethics: Youth Politics in the Black Mediterranean asks why and how Black Italian activists (specifically, the Italian-born children of African immigrants) have taken up national citizenship as a privileged terrain of struggle over race and membership in Italy. If, as Engin Isin (2005, 183) writes, citizenship represents "how relentlessly the idea of inclusion produces exclusion"—namely, through the distinction between “citizen” and “alien”—what new forms of differentiation and exclusion are emerging in these efforts to reformulate and expand Italian citizenship? The book argues that citizenship—and specifically, longstanding debates about the legal inclusion of Black subjects within European polities—is key to understanding the connection between subtler, late-twentieth century “colorblind” or “cultural racisms” and the increasingly overt racial nationalisms of the last decade. Citizenship and Diasporic Ethics explores the political possibilities and limits of national citizenship, as well as alternative practices of community that envision the “Black Mediterranean” as a capacious unit of diasporic solidarity capable of bringing together Black citizens-in-waiting and Black refugees. 

Citizenship and Diasporic Ethics is based on multi-sited, mixed-methods research conducted in Italy over five years (2013–2017)—including interviews, participant observation, and virtual ethnography with Black youth activists; policy analysis; and archival research. Through finely-grained ethnographic analysis, I show that the fraught task of disentangling “race” from “nation” in Italy has generated new forms of racial differentiation that do not adhere to a neat binary of inclusion and exclusion; at the same time, these struggles have inspired powerful Black Mediterranean diasporic politics that look beyond the nation-state. In doing so, I demonstrate that different marginalized groups can relate to national citizenship in divergent ways: for Black Italians, citizenship is a path to racial inclusion; for Black refugees, it can become a tool of oppression. By swerving the question of whether national citizenship is simply “good” or “bad” (i.e., whether it represents a path to rights and inclusion or a form of liberal accommodationism), I look instead at the work that citizenship does. National citizenship remains an important crucible in which new racisms are being made, new racial distinctions are articulated, and the constitutive racial exclusions of liberalism are laid bare.

Biography, Education and Training

2018 // PhD, Geography, UC Berkeley (designated emphasis: Science and Technology Studies)

2010 // MPA, Brown University

2009 // AB, International Relations (with honors) and Africana Studies, Brown University

Honors, Awards and Grants

2020 // UC Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation Building Belonging Grant

2020 // UC Santa Cruz Hellman Fellow

2020 // UC Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation Book Manuscript Accelerator Grant

2019 // UCHRI Short-Term Research Residence Award (Co-PI with Jennifer Kelly)
2019 // UC Santa Cruz New Faculty Research Grant
2018 // UC Santa Cruz Carnegie Fellows Nominee / National Carnegie Fellows Finalist
2015 // UCHRI Workshop Grant
2015 // UC Berkeley Townsend Center for the Humanities Conference Grant

2014 // UC Berkeley Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society Fieldwork Grant

2014 // Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship 

2012 // Eugene Cota-Robles Graduate Fellowship

2010 // Presidential Management Fellowship

2009 // Liman Public Interest Law Fellowship 

Selected Publications

Book Manuscripts in Preparation

  • Citizenship and Diasporic Ethics: Youth Politics in the Black Mediterranean (monograph).
  • The Black Geographic: Praxis, Resistance, Futurity, eds. Jovan Scott Lewis and Camilla Hawthorne (Duke University Press). 
  • The Black Mediterranean: Bodies, Borders, and Citizenship in the Contemporary Migration Crisis, eds. Gabriele Proglio, Ida Danewid, Vivian Gerrand, Mackda Ghebremarian Tesfau, Giuseppe Grimaldi, Camilla Hawthorne, Angelica Pesarini, Timothy Raeymaekers, and Khalil Saucier (Palgrave Macmillan).

Journal Articles


Journal Special Issues Edited


Book Chapters


Web-Based Publications