John L. Jackson, Jr., Ph.D.

Portrait of John L. Jackson, Jr.
Walter H. Annenberg Dean
Richard Perry University Professor

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 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 film, co-directed with Deborah A. Thomas, is Bad Friday: Rastafari after Coral Gardens (Third World Newsreel, 2012) Making Sweet Tea: The Lives and Loves of Southern Black Gay Men, co-directed with Nora Gross and co-executive produced with E. Patrick Johnson.

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 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.


Uploaded on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 10:38am
A panel hosted by the Annenberg School for Communication and the University of Pennsylvania Faculty Senate People on all sides of the political...
Uploaded on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 3:42pm
John L. Jackson, Jr., Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, talks about his research.

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Courses Taught

COMM 000: Public Interest Social Science

COMM 210: Film and Reality: Toward an Anthropology of the Real

COMM 281: Race Films: Spike Lee and his Interlocutors

COMM 314: Anthropology of the Mass Media

COMM 420: Race: History, Theory and Practice

COMM 740/ANTH 640/AFRC 640: Africana Studies Proseminar 

ANTH 640/AFRC 640: Africana Studies Proseminar

COMM 820: The Ethnographic Imagination

COMM 840: Media Ethnography: Theory and Practice

COMM 842: The Filmic 

John L. Jackson, Jr. is a filmmaker and urban anthropologist who works at the intersection of visual culture, critical race theory, media studies, and the ethnography of diasporic religions.
Pronouns: he/him

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Jackson's Network

  • Culture and Communication
  • Global and Comparative Communication
  • Visual Communication
  • CAMRA at Penn
  • Center for Experimental Ethnography
  • Center for Media at Risk
  • Center on Digital Culture and Society
  • Penn Center for Africana Studies
  • Penn Anthropology Department