Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

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
     *Candace Rogers Best Student Paper Award: Eastern Sociological Society.
     *Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award, Honorable Mention: Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section, American Sociological Association.
      *Op-Ed summarizing findings published in The Washington Post; reposted on, MMC News, and Political Science Now. 

Abstract: This article is about behavioral variation in genocide. Research frequently suggests that violent behaviors can be explained by or treated as synonymous with ethnic categories. This literature also tends to pre-group actors as perpetrators, victims, or bystanders for research purposes. However, evidence that individuals cross boundaries from killing to desistance and saving throughout genocide indicates that the relationship between behaviors and categories is often in flux. I thus introduce the concept of behavioral boundary crossing to examine when and how Hutu in 1994 Rwanda aligned with the killing behaviors expected of them and when and how they did not. I analyze interviews with 31 Hutu, revealing that transactional, relational, social-psychological, and cognitive mechanisms informed individuals’ behaviors during the genocide. The result is a dynamic theory of action that explains participation without homogenizing individual experience due to presumptions about behavioral and categorical alignment. 

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

Despite a recent turn towards the study of political violence within the field of contentious politics, scholars have yet to focus their lens on genocide. This is puzzling, as the field of collective action and social movements was originally developed in reaction to fascism (Nazism in particular), while research on collective action and research on genocide has long shown parallel findings and shared insights. This paper reviews the history of this scholarly convergence and divergence, and suggests that recent findings of research on genocide can be improved by the consideration of concepts from social movements and collective action. It then details three theories of the micro-mechanisms that mobilize individuals for contention – framing, diffusion, and networks – and specifies how they refine existing explanations of civilian participation in genocide. In the conclusion, I suggest that a contentious politics approach to genocide would consider it one form of collective action among others, analyzable within the existing framework of collective action and social movement theory.

In Submission

Luft, Aliza. “Explaining French Bishops’ Support for the Statut des Juifs.” 
     *Best Graduate Student Paper Award, Association for the Study of Nationalities
     *Elise Boulding Best Graduate Student Paper Award: Peace, War, and Social Conflict Section, American Sociological       Association 

Luft, Aliza. “The Contribution of Social Movement Theory to Understanding the Rwandan Genocide.” (Revise and Resubmit, Social Movement Studies).

Luft, Aliza and Erik Schneiderhan. “Dangerous Durkheim: Emil Durkheim and the Armenian Genocide.” (Revise and Resubmit, Journal of Classical Sociology).

Essays, Book Chapters, Reviews, and Encyclopedia Entries

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. 22(3): 203-211.

Luft, Aliza (2016). “Who Counts? The Mathematics of Life and Death after Genocide,” by Diane M. Nelson. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015. Contemporary Sociology. 46(3): 341-342.

Luft, Aliza (2016). “Feminist/Women’s Movements, East Africa.” The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies, eds: Nancy Naples, Renee C. Hoogland, Maithree Wickramasinghe, & Angela Wong. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Luft, Aliza (2016). “LGBTI Movements, East Africa.” The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies, eds: Nancy Naples, Renee C. Hoogland, Maithree Wickramasinghe, & Angela Wong. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Luft, Aliza (2013). “A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France,” by Caroline Moorehead. New York, NY: Harper Perrenial, 2011. In Mobilizing Ideas.

Luft, Aliza (2009). Teacher’s Accompaniment, Racial Domination, Racial Progress: The Sociology of Race in America. Matthew Desmond, Mustafa Emirbayer. McGraw Hill. 

In Preparation

Luft, Aliza. "A Bourdieusian Approach to Explaining the Rise of Religious Nationalism in France, 1940-1942."

Luft, Aliza. "Religion Also Matters: Considering Religion In Research on Intersectionality."

Luft, Aliza and Evgeny Finkel. “Sexualized Violence during the Holocaust.”

Luft, Aliza and Jocelyn Viterna. "The State of the Field of Women in War." (Working title.)

Luft, Aliza and Mary-Helen Immordino-Yang. “Dehumanization during Genocides: A Cognitive Sociological Approach.”

Public Sociology

Luft, Aliza. “What Vichy France Can Teach Us About the Normalization of State Violence.” Blog post published on Scatterplot. 

Luft, Aliza (2015). "Once a killer, always a killer? Here are 4 lessons about stopping mass violence." Op-Ed published in The Washington Post.

Luft, Aliza (2015). “Questions of Complicity: France and the Nazi Occupation.” Videotaped interview for Facing History and Ourselves. 

Luft, Aliza (2015). Past and Present in France: Don’t Give Them What They Want.” Article published on Political Violence at a Glance.

Luft, Aliza (2015). “Not Just Victims and Perpetrators: Understanding Rwanda’s Genocide Twenty Years-On.” Article published on Political Violence at a Glance. 

Acar, Taylan, Robert Chiles, Garrett Grainger, Aliza Luft, Rahul Mahajan, João Peschanski, Chelsea Schelly, Jason Turowetz, and Ian F. Wall. (2011). “Inside the Wisconsin Occupation.” Contexts. 10(3): 50-55.

Luft, Aliza (2011). “Another Look at Rwanda.” Footnotes, ASA monthly newsletter. 39:7. 

Luft, Aliza (2010). “Genocide: What’s in a Name?” Article published on

Luft, Aliza (2010). “Increasing Political Violence in Rwanda.” Article published on