Sociology Faculty

Naya Jones
  • Title
    • Assistant Professor & Core Faculty in Global and Community Health Program
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Sociology Department
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Rachel Carson College Academic Building, 322
  • Mail Stop Rachel Carson College Faculty Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High St.
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise African Diaspora, African American / Black Studies, Agroecology and Agriculture, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Environmental Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Social Justice
  • Courses Healing Justice; Race, Somatics, and Food Pedagogy; Black Botanical Medicine in the Americas; Inequality and Identity

Summary of Expertise

Naya Jones PhD (she/her/hers) is a critical geographer and cultural worker. Along with research on embodied teaching and method, she studies Black geographies of health, ecologies, and healing in North and Latin America. She devotes particular attention to how these geographies feel and to how feeling connects with broader themes of collective trauma, ways of knowing, and movement-building. She often collaborates with health and healing practitioners. A range of methods inform her work, from oral history and participatory filmmaking, to ritual arts and close readings of creative texts. Dr. Jones is currently working on a book and creative project about African-American botanical knowledge and the Great Migration. She continues creative work on Afro-Latina/Blaxicana geographies, and you can also find her collaborating on a book that places Black and Indigenous food sovereignty in dialogue (with Dr. Tabitha Robin Martens). 


More on the work >>


As a scholar-cultural worker, archiving and reimagining "old ways" is central to my research practice. These old ways are sometimes referred to as "traditional knowledge" or “local knowledge,” terms critical scholars interrogate. Part of her current work addresses the language used to describe relational ways of knowing that unsettle (most) biomedical and Western scientific paradigms. I consistently grapple with questions of race and racism, racial and ancestral trauma, "tradition" and place.


My background and lived experiences as a Blaxicana (African-American and Xicana/Tejana) deeply inform these interests and my commitment to public scholarship. I also bring 12+ years working closely with fellow practitioners and practitioner-scholars at the crossroads of social justice and community health. Prior to returning to academe, I consulted with Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) organizations as they reimagined ancestral healing ways and made restorative practices central to their justice work. Along with critical theory, this professional background informs my teaching and research. 


Among current projects, much of my work focuses on Black ecologies and Black botanical knowledge, including a book project about African-American botanical knowledge and the Great Migration. You can also find me collaborating on a book that places Black and Indigenous food sovereignty in dialogue (with Dr. Tabitha Robin Martens).


My work has been supported by Culture of Health Leaders, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the American Association of Geographers; the Garden Club of America (Anne S. Chatham Fellowship in Medicinal Botany); and the Wisconsin Arts Board. 


For more, visit my website at

Research Interests

Black geographies of health and healing; Black ecologies; Black diaspora botany; traditional ecological knowledges; critical food studies; spirituality and activism; critical and embodied pedagogy; arts-based methods; African-American and Afro-Latinx Studies.

Biography, Education and Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Primary Care Research, Medical College of Wisconsin

PhD, Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin

MA, Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin


Selected Publications

>> Journal Articles, Chapters, and Essays <<

  • Hirsch, L. and N. Jones. 2021. "Incontestable: Imagining Possibilities Through Intimate Geographies." Editorial for themed intervention in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Free Access>>
  • Jones, N. 2021. "Prologue: Black Dream Geographies." Part of themed intervention in Transactions of the Institute of British GeographersAccess>>
  • Jones, N. 2020. "Intervention: Corner Stores, Surveillance, and All Black Afterlives." In Antipode OnlineOpen Access>>
  • Jones, N. 2019. "Dying to Eat? Black Food Geographies of Slow Violence and Resilience." In ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 18 (5), 1076-99. Open Access>> 
  • Cotter, E, and Jones, N. 2019. "Review of Latino/Latinx Participants in Mindfulness-Based Intervention Research." Mindfulness, 11.
  • Thomas, KD and Jones, N. 2019. "Critical Reflexivity: Teaching About Race and Racism in the Advertising Classroom." Advertising & Society Quarterly, 20 (2).
  • Jones, N. 2019. "Revisiting the Corner Store: Black Youth, Food Geographies, and Gentrification." In Race in the Marketplace: Crossing Critical Boundaries, Johnson, GD, Thomas, KD, Harrison, A, Grier, SA. (Eds.) Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Currently Open Access>>
  • Jones, N. 2018. "'It Tastes Like Heaven”: Critical Food Pedagogy with Black Youth in the Anthropocene." In Policy Futures in Education, 17(7), 905-923.  


 >> Public Scholarship and Creative Works <<

  • Jones, N. May 2021. "At a Planetary Crossroads: Contemplative Wisdom of Black Geographies" in Tarka by Embodied Philosophy, Special Issue: On Death.
  • (Invited) Jones, N. March 2021. "Blaxicana Futures Part 1" in Ofrenda Magazine


Further publications + works

Selected Exhibitions

Virtual Exhibit & Article: Dying to Eat? Black Food Geographies of Slow Violence and Resilience