University of California Seal


Jennifer Jackson

Professor of Anthropology

UC Los Angeles



We were extraordinarily fortunate to bring Jennifer into our faculty in 2011. Her theoretical and empirically substantive book, Political Oratory and Cartooning: An Ethnography of Democratic Processes in Madagascar (2013) touched broad domains of anthropological scholarship in the department and across the field. Her eye-opening insights into the language of American politics were featured in national media. Jennifer transformed the classroom into an engaging forum where undergraduates used anthropological concepts to make sense out of contemporary social and political dramas. The nationally charged incident around the death of Trayvon Martin, for example, was vivified in Jennifer’s classroom through an analysis of the word “hoodie” as a potent signifier. Among advanced students Jennifer opened up a world of ideas related to the politics and globalization of language practices and the semiotics of public engagement. Just as important, Jennifer will be remembered for her devotion to each student’s aspirations, always providing wisdom and encouragement.  


The UCLA Department of Anthropology has established the Jennifer Jackson Student Support Fund to assist the research endeavors of students in anthropology. Should you wish to contribute to this fund, please make your check payable to the UCLA Foundation, noting Jennifer Jackson Student Support Fund on the memo line. Please send your gift to the attention of Lisa Mohan at UCLA College of Letters and Science, 1309 Murphy Hall, Box 951413, Los Angeles, CA 90095.


Jennifer Jackson was an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology. She received her doctorate in 2006 from Yale University and held for four years the position of assistant professor in linguistic anthropology at the University of Toronto. She joined the department at UCLA in the Fall of 2011.


Prof. Jackson's scholarly interests were as a linguistic anthropologist. Since 1994, she focused her research in Madagascar and the U.S. Her work spanned studies in semiotics, language ideologies and aesthetics, verbal and visual artistic performance in political practice as they relate to the production of democracy, civil society and the state in Madagascar as well as the US. Her work appears in publications such as the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Language and Society, Language and Communication, North American Dialogue, and Anthropology News. She wrote a book, Political Oratory and Cartooning: An ethnography of democratic process in Madagascar (2013, Wiley Blackwell) on the recent rise and fall of the President of Madagascar and continued to work with politicians in Madagascar during the transitional government and elections. She also published work concerning American political oratory, in particular the ideologies and aesthetics informing how notions of truth and violence are conveyed in oratorical address.


At UCLA, she taught courses in the theories of linguistic anthropology, language and politics, narrative and identity, aesthetics and performance.