Harvard University

SSW 2016 Public Lecture Series Love, Race, and Invisibility in a World of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’



John L. Jackson, Jr., Ph.D.
Richard Perry University Professor, Dean, School of Social Policy & Practice University of Pennsylvania

Dean John L. Jackson, Jr. will discuss the role of love, empathy, and mutual recognition across racial lines in the context of social work and social justice activism. “We haven’t yet created a fully meritocratic multiracial democracy that is fair for all. The past is the present’s stepladder, and it would take a long time to climb down from that crooked and compromised pedestal as we attempt to counteract the institutional and psychological effects of long-term white supremacy.”

John L. Jackson, Jr., is Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice and Richard Perry University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Jackson received his BA in Communication (Radio/TV/Film) from Howard University and his PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University. He spent three years as a junior fellow at the Harvard University Society of Fellows, and four years teaching in Duke University’s Department of Cultural Anthropology and Center for Documentary Studies. He is the author of Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem (Harvard University Press, 2013); Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Basic, 2008); Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (University of Chicago Press, 2005); Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (University of Chicago Press, 2001); and Impolite Conversations, co-written with Cora Daniels (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2014).

As a filmmaker, Jackson has produced a feature-length fiction film, documentaries, and film-shorts that have screened at film festivals internationally. His most recent film, co-directed with Deborah A. Thomas, is “Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens” (Third World Newsreel, 2012), which examines the history of violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its iconic Rastafarian community. 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 (www.camrapenn.org) and PIVPE, two University of Pennsylvania-based initiatives organized around creating visual and performative research projects and producing rigorous criteria for assessing them. Before becoming Dean, Jackson served as Senior Advisor to the Provost on Diversity and Associate Dean of Administration in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

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