Samuel S. Fels Fund


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 B.A. 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 AmericaReal Black: Adventures in Racial SincerityRacial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political CorrectnessThin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of JerusalemImpolite Conversations: On Race, Politics, Sex, Money, and Religion (co-written with Cora Daniels), and Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment (co-written with Carolyn Rouse and Marla Frederick). His is also editor of Social Policy and Social Justice. His most recently completed film, co-directed with Deborah A. Thomas, is Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens (Third World Newsreel, 2012), and he is currently completing Making Sweet Tea: The Lives and Loves of Southern Black Gay Men, co-directed and co-produced with Nora Gross and Stephen Lewis.

John studies race, class and difference in contemporary urban America, and his work also critically explores how film and other non-traditional or multi-modal formats can be most effectively utilized in 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 a faculty member at 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. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Deborah Thomas, and their two children.

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