Ethnographic methods in media analysis. Impact of mass media on urban life. Mediamaking as a form of community-building and proselytizing among religious organizations. Globalization and the remaking of ethnic/racial diasporas. Visual studies and theories of reality. Racialization and media technology.
John L. Jackson, Jr., is Dean of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy and Practice. He also is the Richard Perry University Professor of Communication, Africana Studies, and Anthropology in the Standing Faculty of the Annenberg School for Communication and the Standing Faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences. Before coming to Penn, Jackson taught in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and spent three years as a Junior Fellow at the Harvard University Society of Fellows in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jackson received his B.A. in Communications (Radio, TV, Film) from Howard University in Washington D.C. and his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University in New York City. As a filmmaker, Jackson has produced a feature-length fiction film, documentaries, and film-shorts that have screened at film festivals internationally. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Harvard University's Milton Fund, and the Lilly Endowment (during a year at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina). He has published several books, 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), and Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Basic, 2008), released in paperback in 2010. Jackson has just released Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem (Harvard University Press, 2013) and is completing another book (co-authored by Cora Daniels), Impolite Conversations: On Race, Politics, Sex, Money, and Religion (Atria [Simon and Schuster]) that is slated for release in 2014. His most recent film, co-directed with Deborah Thomas, is Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens (Third World Newsreel, 2012).
Black Judah: Race, Gender and the Twelve Tribes of Transnationalism
Focusing on the transatlantic flow of practitioners, religious beliefs, and cultural practices, my next ethnographic project examines how Black Hebrew Israelites in New York City, Washington D.C., and Dimona (Israel) construct a globally diverse spiritual subjectivity with its own particular iteration of Black Diasporic possibility. Fieldwork is currently ongoing with Black Jews in the United States and Israel. The academic years 2006-2008 will be devoted to completing the U.S. research and to more substantial ethnographic fieldwork with Black Hebrews in Israel.
Marla Frederick (Harvard), Carolyn Rouse (Princeton), and I are co-authoring a book that discusses qualitative research methods for studying contemporary black religious groups. It includes a special emphasis on the ways in which African-Americans deploy media technology as part of their religious/spiritual communities. Professor Frederick's contribution focuses on Christianity and televangelism. Dr. Rouse concentrates on Muslim self-representations in film and broadcast radio/television. I highlight how a particular segment of the Black Jewish community (in the United States and abroad) uses cable access programs, self-produced DVDs/CDs, and the internet to create a transnational spiritual/ethnic community. We plan to finish a rough version of this manuscript by late 2013.
Books, publications, and other work
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