Class Schedule

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, 111
  • Office Hours Spring 2018: Thursdays 10:30am-12:30pm 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

I received my Ph.D. in 2008 from the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and joined the faculty of the Department of Latin American and Latino/a Studies at UC Santa Cruz in 2014. 

An interdisciplinary youth studies scholar, trained as a sociologist, my research agenda bridges the scholarship on youth, childhood, and girlhood with research on social movements, activism, and political engagement.  Drawing on diverse literatures on Latin American social movements, youth citizenship, children's rights, transnational feminist theory, participatory democracy, and political identity construction, my work focuses on the political lives of children and youth across the Americas.  It all engages with the theoretical question of how identity narrativs shape social movement practices, centering on the ways that 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 also published on a range of topics related to youth politics, including 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.

I am currently working on a book manuscript that focuses on intergenerational collaboration in the Peruvian movement of working children.

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; Girlhood Across the Americas; Latin American Social Movements; Qualitative Research Methods.