Vilna Bashi Treitler

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SH 3706


Dr. Vilna Bashi Treitler is Professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a Professor of Sociology. As a sociologist and visual artist, her scholarship and art centers on the intersection of race, migration, and inequality. She is the 2020 recipient of the Cox-Johnson-Frasier award bestowed by the American Sociological Association for scholarship in service to social justice. 

Her book, The Ethnic Project: Transforming Racial Fiction into Ethnic Factions, was honored by inclusion in the Zora Canon, a list of the best 100 books written by an African American woman. The book argues that beliefs in racial distinctions persist – despite 100 years of evidence proving them false – because ethnic groups use their social agency to fight for a better racial status, thus reifying rather than dismantling the racial structure. 

Her book, Survival of the Knitted: Immigrant Social Networks in a Stratified World (Stanford University Press, 2007), provides a new model of immigrant networks and shows how transnational networks shaped black migrants’ socioeconomic adaptation in New York, London, Canada, and the Caribbean. Survival was named Finalist for the Thomas-Znanecki Book Award given by the American Sociological Association’s section on International Migration. 

She is the editor of Race in Transnational and Transracial Adoption that gathers contributions from scholars from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and (with co-editor Prof. Manuela Boatca), Dynamics of Inequalities in Global Perspective, a monograph issue of Current Sociology. Her works in progress include a National Science Foundation-funded study on race and adoption in the U.S. and Europe, and a new book on racial thought. 

Dr. Treitler is also an artist, who works in oil on canvas and Masonite; and in pigment painted and fired on glass. She studied with master painter Sam Adoquei at the Union Square Atelier, and participated in glass painting workshops both with master painter Jonathan Cooke (at Wheaton Arts), and with J. Kenneth Leap (at Bryn Athyn’s workshops on the Sacred Arts).

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