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

Summary of Expertise

Naya Jones PhD (she/her/hers) is a critical geographer and cultural worker. Along with research on embodied approaches to 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 matters for collective thriving and movement-building. Often in collaboration with health and healing practitioners, she engages a range of methods such as oral history, ritual arts and performance, and close readings of archival and creative texts. 


As a Blaxicana scholar-cultural worker (African-American and Xicana/Tejana), archiving and reimagining "old ways" or traditional medicine with community members is central to Dr. Jones' research practice. She consistently grapples with questions of race/racism and racial/ancestral trauma, "tradition" and place. Prior to returning to academe, she facilitated workshops and consulted for BIPOC-led organizations as they mobilized mind/body practices and traditional knowledge in their justice work. Along with grounding in critical theory, this training and background informs her approach to research. 


Currently, Dr. Jones is working on a manuscript and creative project about African-American botanical knowledge and the Great Migration, and she continues creative work on racial trauma and Black food sovereignty. She is also collaborating on a pedagogy project about Afro-Latinx migrant health. Her 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. 

Research Interests

Black geographies of health and healing; Black ecologies; Black diaspora botany; traditional ecological knowledge; critical food studies; embodiment; 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, 2018

PhD, Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin, 2016

MA, Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 2008


Selected Publications



Jones, N. 2020. Intervention: Corner Stores, Surveillance, and All Black Afterlives. Antipode OnlineOpen Access>>


Jones, N. 2019. Dying to Eat? Black Food Geographies of Slow Violence and Resilience. 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. 2019. Receta for Radical Wholeness [Recipe for Radical Wholeness]. In Voices from the Ancestors: Xicanx and Latinx Spiritual Expressions and Healing Practices. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. (As Naya Armendarez Jones)


Jones, N. 2018. “It Tastes Like Heaven”: Critical Food Pedagogy with Black Youth in the Anthropocene. Policy Futures in Education, 17(7), 905-923.  


Public Scholarship + Creative Works


Jones, N. May 2021. At a Planetary Crossroads: Contemplative Wisdom of Black Geographies. Tarka by Embodied Philosophy, Special Issue: On Death. 


(Invited) Jones, N. March 2021. Blaxicana Futures Part 1: Creative Essay and Altar Art. Ofrenda Magazine


Further publications + works

Selected Exhibitions

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