About the Provost
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John L. Jackson, Jr. is Penn's 31st Provost.
Provost Jackson, Richard Perry University Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and the School of Arts and Sciences, began his tenure on June 1, 2023. A pioneering scholar of urban ethnography, visual culture, and the anthropology of race, he is the only professor in Penn history to serve as Dean of two Penn Schools – the Annenberg School for Communication (2019-2023) and the School of Social Policy and Practice (2014-2018) – and was appointed in 2006 as the first Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor, the University-wide initiative to recruit exceptional faculty members whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines. Before coming to Penn, he was a professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University (2002-2006) and a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University (1999-2002).
Provost Jackson’s widely influential work includes four major scholarly books – Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem (Harvard University Press, 2013); Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness (Civitas, 2008); Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity (University of Chicago Press, 2005); and Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America (University of Chicago Press, 2001) – and two co-written books, Televised Redemption: The Media Production of Black Muslims, Jews, and Christians (New York University Press, 2016) and Impolite Conversations: On Race, Class, Sex, Religion, and Politics (Atria, 2014). He has written extensively for such media as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Los Angeles Times; served in 2009 as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School; and has received the President’s Award from the American Anthropological Association, the Dennis M. DeTurck Award for Innovation in Teaching from the School of Arts and Sciences, and grants from the Ford Foundation and Mellon Foundation, among many other awards and grants.
Provost Jackson is also a producer and/or director of ten films that have been screened at dozens of international film festivals, including the multi-award-winning Making Sweet Tea and the widely screened and taught Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens. At Penn, he helped found CAMRA (the Collective for Advancing Multimodal Research Arts), CEE (the Center for Experimental Ethnography), and the Penn Futures Project, a collaboration among three Penn Schools to support schoolchildren and their families in our West Philadelphia community. He has also served at Penn as Chair of the Red and Blue Advisory Committee, Senior Advisor to the Provost on Diversity, Chair of the University Council Committee on Diversity and Equity, and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and for Administration in the Annenberg School for Communication.
Provost Jackson received a PhD and MA in Anthropology from Columbia University and a BA in Communication summa cum laude from Howard University.