Affiliated Faculty

Jessica Taft
  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Latin American & Latino Studies
  • Affiliations Sociology Department, Research Center for the Americas, Community Studies Program, Education Department
  • Phone
    831-502-7695
  • Email
  • Fax
    831-459-3125
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Merrill College Academic Building, 106
  • Office Hours Fall 2018: Mondays 2-4pm and by appointment
  • Mail Stop Merrill/Crown Faculty Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High St.
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Activism, Youth Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Sociology, Democracy

Research Interests

youth activism; childhood and youth studies; social movements; participatory democracy; girls studies; Latin American radicalisms; feminist theory; qualitative and participatory research methods.

Biography, Education and Training

An interdisciplinary youth studies scholar, my work focuses on the political lives of children and youth across the Americas, with an emphasis on youth activists and youth social movemetns.  Theoretically, I am interested in how identity narratives shape social movement practices and look at how the subject categories of child, youth, adult, teenager, and girl are constructed within transnational and local political cultures, and how these subject categories matter for the strategies, organizational strucutres, and internal dynamics of social movements. 

My first book, Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas (NYU 2011), is an ethnography of teenage girl activists in five cities in North and South America.  I have recently completed a book on intergenerational relationships and age-based power in the Peruvian movement of working children, entitled The Kids are in Charge: Youth Activism and Political Power (NYU forthcoming).  I have published articles on “girl power” discourses, girls’ organizations and ideas about the public sphere, peer-driven political socialization amongst activist youth, and youth activists' conceptions of democracy, as well as an edited volume on youth citizenship and civic-political engagement.  

Honors, Awards and Grants

Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame Visiting Fellowship
American Sociological Association Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline Grant
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

Teaching Interests

Latin American and Latino Youth Movements; Youth and Citizenship; Latin American Childhoods; The Politics of Childhood and Youth; Latin American Social Movements; Qualitative Research Methods.