Assistant Professor

Areas of Interest:

Race, Ethnicity and Migration; Biology and Health; Social Stratification; Research Methods


Dr. Ifatunji is primarily interested in racial and ethnic theory and the methods used to study inequality and stratification. More specifically, he is interested in theorizing how non-physical characteristics contribute to racial classification and stratification. While Michael Omi and Howard Winant have advanced a theory of race that is based on assigning social meaning to bodies according to perceived skin color, hair texture and/or bone structure, Ian Haney Lopez and Tomas Almaguer have shown that racial classification in America often turns on non-physical characteristics, including language, religion, and nationality. For instance, the U.S. Census Bureau recently recommended that we change our racial classification of immigrants from countries like Syria and Egypt from White to “Middle Eastern and North African.” For decades, proponents of this change have offered various rationales, but notably, none of them reference physical characteristics. Therefore, he is interested in studying how language, religion, and nationality influence our perception of the human body and the legal process of racial classification. He is also interested in thinking through what these practices might mean for the ontologies and social theories that we often use when studying race and ethnicity.

Dr. Ifatunji is pursuing his interests in three interrelated lines of inquiry, using a range of mostly quantitative methods, including large-scale surveys, advanced statistics, linked administrative data, social experiments, and historiography. First, he has a set of papers that contribute to ongoing discussions on the ways in which bias in our quantitative epistemologies and methodologies obscure our understanding of racial inequality. Three papers in this series assess the construct validity of measures that social scientists often reference in studies of racial inequality – e.g., soft skills and discrimination. Another manuscript makes the case that, when social scientists use statistics to examine racial inequality, they often mis-specify their models in ways that conceal the overall role of White Supremacy. His second line of inquiry includes a series of papers and research proposals that compare the labor market participation, physical health and political participation of African Americans and Black immigrants. These papers suggest that, even though they share a similar physical appearance, we often make racialized distinctions between these Black populations. Finally, in a paper and book manuscript, he is developing a new ontology and social theory for the study of race and ethnicity in settler and colonial societies.

Graduate Student Recruitment:
Dr. Ifatunji is currently recruiting graduate students that are interested in the quantitative study of Black populations. He is particularly interested in studying the Black population across five different disaggregations: skin color, internal migration, international migration, generational status and country or region of birth. Prospective students with an interest in these disaggregations and either socioeconomic status, political participation or population health should contact him ahead of the application deadline.


Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, 2011.



Office: 165 Hamilton Hall
(919) 843-6466 (phone)