Jessica Taft

TitleAssociate Professor
DivisionSocial Sciences Division
DepartmentLatin American & Latino Studies
AffiliationsSociology Department,
Chicano Latino Research Center,
Community Studies Program
Web Site
OfficeMerrill Academic, room 111
Office HoursWinter 2018: Fridays 9:30-11:30 am and by appointment
Campus Mail StopMerrill Faculty Services
Mail1156 High St.
Santa Cruz, CA
Jessica Taft

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. 

My research focuses on the political lives of children and youth in North and South America. I have ongoing intellectual interests in the role of young people in social change and the complex relationship between political cultures, identity narratives, and social movement practices. I engage with several disparate sociological and interdisciplinary fields, including work on youth citizenship, children's rights, social movements, participatory democracy, Latin American radicalisms, and feminist theory. 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.