John L. Jackson Jr.
John L. Jackson Jr. is the Walter H. Annenberg Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Richard Perry University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He was previously Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice and Special Adviser to the Provost on Diversity at Penn. Jackson earned his BA in Communication (Radio/TV/Film) from Howard University, completed his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University, and served as a junior fellow at the Harvard University Society of Fellows before becoming Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University.
He is the author of several books, including Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (University of Chicago Press, 2001); Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (University of Chicago Press, 2005); Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Basic Civitas, 2008); Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem (Harvard University Press, 2013); Impolite Conversations: On Race, Politics, Sex, Money, and Religion, co-written with Cora Daniels (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2014), and Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment (NYU Press, 2016), co-written with Carolyn Rouse and Marla Frederick. He is also editor of Social Policy and Social Justice (2016), distributed by the University of Pennsylvania Press.
His most recent films are Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens (Third World Newsreel, 2012), co-directed by Deborah A. Thomas and the recently completed Making Sweet Tea: The Lives and Loves of Southern Black Gay Men, co-directed by Nora Gross. Amongst other awards, Making Sweet Team won “Best LGBTQ Film” at the 2020 San Diego Black Film Festival.
An urban researcher, media ethnographer, anthropologist of religion, and theorist of race/ethnicity, Jackson’s work also critically explores how film and other non-traditional or multi-modal formats can be most effectively utilized in specifically scholarly research projects, and he is one of the founding members of CAMRA, the University of Pennsylvania-based initiative organized around creating visual and performative research projects and producing rigorous criteria for assessing them.
He is currently co-director of Penn’s new Center for Experimental Ethnography, and he has affiliations with Penn’s Departments of Africana Studies and Anthropology, as well as with the Graduate School of Education and the School of Social Policy & Practice.
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- John L. Jackson Jr., “What It Feels Like to be a Black Professor,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 26, 2015.