Sociology Faculty

Camilla Hawthorne
  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Sociology Department
    • Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Affiliations Science & Justice Research Center, Legal Studies, John R. Lewis College
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Rachel Carson College Academic Building, 204
  • Office Hours
  • 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 SOCY105B: Contemporary Social Theory, SOCY117E: Migrant Europe, SOCY170P: The Political Economy of Race, SOCY196S: Black Geographies and the Imperative of Abolition, SOCY202: Contemporary Social Theory, SOCY240: Identity and Inequality, SOCY290W: Black Geographies

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 engages critical human geography, diaspora, Black European studies, and postcolonial/feminist science and technology studies.


I received my PhD from the Department of Geography at UC Berkeley in 2018. I currently serve as Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz. I am a principal faculty member in UCSC's Critical Race and Ethnic Studies program, and an affiliate of the Science & Justice Research Center and the Legal Studies Program. I also direct the Black Geographies Lab at UCSC. My teaching is focused on race, immigration and citizenship; political economy; Black geographies; subjectivity and identity; and social theory. 

I am Past Chair of the Black Geographies Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers. I also sit on the editorial boards of the journals Environment and Planning D: Society & Space, and California Italian Studies.


I am a programme director and faculty member of the Black Europe Summer School, a two-week intensive course on citizenship, race, and the Black diaspora in Europe that is held each summer in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In addition, I continue to collaborate with activist collectives in the United States and Europe working at the intersection of anti-Blackness and xenophobia.

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 book Contesting Race and Citizenship: Youth Politics in the Black Mediterranean (Cornell University Press, 2022), asks why and how Black Italian activists have taken up national citizenship as a privileged terrain of struggle over race and membership in Italy. What new forms of differentiation and exclusion are emerging in these efforts to reformulate and expand Italian citizenship? I argue 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. This project is based on multi-sited, mixed-methods research conducted in Italy over seven years.


I am also interested in the possibilities and limitations of the “Black Mediterranean” for understanding racial criminalization and racialized citizenship in Italy, and southern Europe broadly. How might this framework help to connect Black liberation politics and refugee rights mobilizations in Europe? These are questions I take up with my collaborators from the Black Mediterranean Collective in a co-edited volume about racial subordination and resistance in the Mediterranean, entitled  The Black Mediterranean: Bodies, Borders, and Citizenship (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021).

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


2021 // Leonardo da Vinci Humanities Award for Early Career Researchers/Scholars
2020 // #20 of 110 “Women of the Year,” Corriere della Sera

2020 // UC Santa Cruz Humanities Institute Research Cluster Grant

2020 // UC Santa Cruz Faculty Research Grant

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



Journal Articles

 Journal Special Issues Edited


Book Chapters