Affiliated Faculty

Jessica K Taft
  • Pronouns she, her, her, hers, herself
  • Title
    • Professor
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Latin American & Latino Studies
  • Affiliations Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas, Sociology Department, Community Studies Program, Education Department
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Merrill College Academic Building, 106
  • Office Hours S24: Thursdays 10am-noon (in the Huerta Center) or 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; 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 movements.  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: Activism and Power in Peru's Movement of Working Children (NYU 2019).  I have published articles on representations of girl activists, “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.  

Teaching Interests

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