Kaja Tretjak is an assistant professor in the Behavioral Sciences Department, where she teaches anthropology and sociology and directs JSC’s new program in criminal justice, which she helped develop. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. from Columbia University.
Before joining the Johnson State community (initially as a visiting professor in fall 2014), Kaja worked as a postdoctoral fellow in interdisciplinary legal studies at SUNY Buffalo Law School’s Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy.
Her academic interests include social movements, political culture, and the interrelations between law and society. She is working on a book on the contemporary resurgence of libertarianism in the United States that explores the rise of a profound disenchantment, particularly among millennials, with state-based solutions to pressing contemporary problems. Grounded in over two years of ethnographic fieldwork funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the project draws on firsthand accounts ranging from elite boardrooms and think tank conference rooms to political demonstrations, street theater direct actions and student reading groups.
As a lawyer, Kaja worked with immigrant survivors of domestic violence and victims of police abuse and dealt with issues of human trafficking, civil liberties, legal ethics and malpractice.
Originally from the former Yugoslavia, Kaja is a frequent speaker on socio-political issues and grassroots organizing and strategy. She is co-founder of three nonprofit organizations, including Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER), which focuses on empowering students to reform how universities handle sexual assault. SAFER is the original inspiration for the current wave of “red tape” demonstrations sweeping campuses nationwide. Kaja also co-founded Hollaback!, which has emerged as an international movement to end street harassment, and the Peaceful Streets Project, a police-accountability effort in Austin, Texas.