Aliza Luft

Assistant Professor

Contact Information

Email    aluft@soc.ucla.edu
Office  291 Haines Hall
Phone  310-206-2724
My research focuses on social boundary processes, the causes and consequences of violence, and cognition.

These interests are reflected in my current book project as well as my published papers and ongoing research. First, I study wartime defection, or how people shift stances from support for state violence to resistance and saving behaviors within the same violent episode. Second, I investigate the relationship between social boundaries and political behaviors, with a specific interest in how racial, ethnic, and religious cleavages inform and are transformed by extreme violence such as genocide. Third, I analyze the relationship between cognition and perception at the micro-level of decision-making on violence. Here, I focus on how timing influences cognitive adaptation to violence and how shifts in social perception mediate this process. 


Ph.D., Sociology, University of Wisconsin - Madison (Ph.D. Minor in Political Science).

M.S., Sociology, University of Wisconsin - Madison.

M.A., Education, University of California-Berkeley.

B.A., Sociology, History, Religion, Bates College, Lewiston, ME.

Selected Publications

Luft, Aliza (2015). “Toward a Dynamic Theory of Action at the Micro-Level of Genocide: Killing, Desistance, and Saving in 1994 Rwanda.” Sociological Theory. 33(2):148-172.

Luft, Aliza (2015). “Genocide as Contentious Politics.” Sociology Compass. 9(10): 897-909.

Luft, Aliza (2016). “Who Counts? The Mathematics of Life and Death after Genocide,” by Diane M. Nelson. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015. In Contemporary Sociology.

Luft, Aliza (2017). “Has the 2016 Election Institutionalized Systemic Social Exclusion and Violence in America—and Perhaps Paved the Way for Authoritarianism and the Possible ‘Social Death’ of Groups Perceived as Undesirable to the New Administration in Washington?” Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, Society. 22(3): 2013-211.

Luft, Aliza (2018). How Dangerous Is It When Trump Calls Some Immigrants 'Animals'? Op-Ed published in The Washington Post.