Bruce D. Haynes

Bruce Haynes Portrait

Position Title

2251 Social Science and Humanities


  • Ph.D., Sociology, City University of New York Graduate Center, 1995
  • M.A., Sociology, City University of New York Graduate Center, 1992
  • B.A., Sociology, Manhattanville College, 1982


I was born in Harlem, New York. After receiving my B.A. in Sociology from Manhattanville College,I conducted applied research, under sociologist and jury expert Jay Schulman, selecting juries for trials throughout New York State. From there I went on to earn my doctorate in sociology from the City University of New York (1995) and was appointed Assistant Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies at Yale University in 1995. In 2001, I joined the faculty at the University of California, Davis, where I now serve as Professor of Sociology. In addition, I am a Senior Fellow in the Urban Ethnography Project at Yale University.

Research Focus

The Racialization of People and Place

As a scholar of racial and ethnic relations and urban communities, my work seeks to understand the processes of Racialization and the consequences of racial classification for creating communities boundaries, particularly within an urban context. My most recent book, The Soul of Judaism: Jews of African Descent in America (New York University Press, 2018), won the 2019 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for Best Book in Africana Religions. The work offers the first exploration of the full diversity of Black Jews, including bi-racial Jews of both matrilineal and patrilineal descent; adoptees; black converts to Judaism; and Black Hebrews and Israelites, who trace their Jewish roots to Africa. The work challenges the dominant western paradigm of Jews as white and of European descent. According to Michael Alexander, Maimonides Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of California, Riverside, "The caliber of thought and conceptualization that has gone into this book is staggering. Haynes hasn’t just located a color line that’s segregated Jewish communities from one another and limited Jewish Studies scholarship, he’s crashed clear through it. His careful language regarding the trickiest matters of race, ethnicity, and religious identity will be tools we all utilize in the next several waves of scholarship as Jewish Studies grapples with its color issue, as it now must. After hearing the voices represented in this book there is no going back. Welcome to 21st century Judaism."

A second recent book, the sociological memoir Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family (2017), tells the story of one Harlem family across three generations, connecting its journey to the historical and social forces that transformed Harlem over the past century. My co-author, Syma Solovitch, and I capture the tides of change that pushed blacks forward through the twentieth century—the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, the early civil rights victories, the Black Power and Black Arts movements—as well as the many forces that ravaged black communities, including my own. Mitchel Duneier, Chair of the Department of Sociology at Princeton University, called it "An utterly captivating work that shows off Haynes's brilliant sociological imagination on every page. He and Solovitch are masterful at linking the small personal details of everyday family and community life to social structure and history. Like Dalton Conley's Honky, this book will be seen as a significant contribution to the emerging literary form of sociological memoir."

I tend to choose ethnographic projects with an eye towards linking everyday social life to the historical contexts in which life unfolds. My work crosses disciplinary boundaries of American Studies, Community and Urban Sociology, Race and Ethnic Relations, Religion, and Jewish Studies while it remains embedded squarely in traditional historical and qualitative methodologies of Sociology.


“Racial Categories in Machine Learning” coauthored with Sebastian Benthall (NYU), 2018

Understanding Race with AI

Haynes, B. D. (2018) The Soul of Judaism: Jews of African Descent in America (New York University Press).

Haynes, B. D. and Syma Solovitch (2017) Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family (Columbia University Press).

Alexander, M. S., & Haynes, B. D. (2016) The color issue: An introduction. American Jewish History 100 (1): ix-x.

Haynes, B. D. (2013) A member of the club? How Black Jews negotiate Black anti-semitism and Jewish racism. Pp. 147-166 in Race, Color, Identity: Rethinking Discourses about the "Jews" in the 21st Century. Efraim Sicher (Ed.), Berghahn Books).

Haynes, B. D. (2012) The Ghetto: Contemporary Global Issues and Controversies, Westview Press, 384 pages, ISBN 9780813345031

Haynes, B. D. (2009) People of God, children of Ham: Making black(s) Jews, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, (Volume 8, Issue 2)

Haynes, B. D. (2008) Place, space and race: Monopolistic group closure and the dark side of social capital, Networked Urbanism: Social capital in the City, Talja Blokland and Mike Savage (Eds.), Ashgate Press 2008 (with Jesse Hernandez- UC Davis doctoral candidate).


I teach courses focused primarily on race and ethnic inequality, racialized spaces, ethnic communities, and urban society. I am committed to mentoring students and providing the guidance and support to produce high-quality researchers and community leaders. In 2011, I was honored to be included among three finalists for the ASUCD Excellence in Education Award.


2019 Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions

2009 Chancellor's Award. "Soaring to New Heights Special Citation for Diversity and Principles of Community"

2009 Martin Luther King Outstanding Educator by the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund. Campus Ministry, City of Davis, and Office of Campus Community Relations