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A native of Harlem, New York and a Senior Fellow in the Urban Ethnography Project at Yale University, Dr. Haynes focuses on race, ethnicity, and religious identity. His 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. This research challenges the dominant western paradigm of Jews as white and of European descent.

His earlier work is a sociological memoir called Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family (2017), which he co-authored with Syma Solovitch. It 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.

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