Jennifer Tilton

Associate Professor, Race and Ethnic Studies, and Co-Director of Liberal Studies
Race & Ethnic Studies

Jennifer Tilton

Areas of Expertise

  • Race
  • Urban space and politics
  • Childhood and youth studies
  • African American studies
  • Community organizing
  • Juvenile justice


Ph.D. University of Michigan, Anthropology and American Culture- Ann Arbor, MI

M.A. University of Michigan, Anthropology and American Culture- Ann Arbor, MI

B.A. Princeton University, Anthropology- Princeton, NJ

For the Media

Contact :
Media Relations


Larsen Hall
P: 909.748.8506


Jennifer Tilton is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work combines urban anthropology, geography, history and public policy to understand childhood, space and the criminal justice system. Her book, Dangerous or Endangered: Race and the Politics of Youth in Urban America (2010) explores stories and struggles of activists in Oakland California to shed light on two broad questions that face the American nation: Why does the U.S. tolerate such inequalities in children’s lives? And what kind of politics would be required to create equal opportunity childhoods?

Jen Tilton’s on-going teaching and research has three main focuses that have emerged out of community-collaborations she has forged within the diverse communities of the Inland Empire:

  • She is currently writing about the REACH program as a space that brings students together across some of the deepest racial and class divides in the U.S, those embedded in the juvenile justice system.
  • Jennifer Tilton is also beginning to write about her long time collaboration with students and community organizations in the IE Fair Chance Coalition, a coalition that worked to pass California’s Fair Chance Act (AB1008) and educated employers and people with records about the new law.
  • Jen’s newest research collaboration with students, Mapping a People’s History: diverse stories of the Inland Empire, uses story maps to try to tell a more diverse history of Redlands and the Inland Empire. See News for more information and links to our work.


Courses Offered

REST 120 - Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies
REST 225 Juvenile Justice: Coming of Age in America from the Inside Out
REST 260 Documenting Race in the Inland Empire
REST 330 Race in the City
REST 325 Race and Criminal Justice Policy
REST 342 Race and Social Protest
REST 335 Race, Gender and Public Policy
REST 210 R.E.A.C.H. 


Previous Teaching Experience: 

Yale University, Lecturer, Yale College and Sociology Department (2006-2007)

Wesleyan University, Visiting Assistant Professor Anthropology and African American Studies (2004-2006)

Relevant Work Experience:

  • Ran creative writing workshops and edited writings for "The Beat Within" in San Francisco and Alameda Juvenile halls (1997-2001).
  • Consultant for Code 33 video, which documented a performance art piece developed out of an on-going dialogue between kids and cops in Oakland. (2001)
  • Ethnography Coordinator, California College of Arts and Crafts, Evaluating art-based youth development projects in Bay Area (2000-2001)
  • Ethnographic Consultant for Eureka Communities, working on the Wellness Foundation's Violence Prevention Fellowship Program (1999)
  • Ethnographic Consultant, Community Capacity Building, Mapping Juvenile Justice and Youth Services in Oakland (1998-1999)
  • Assistant Director, Westside Health Authority. Developed high school oral history project and neighborhood history curriculum in Chicago. (1992-1995)
  • Wrote the manuscript of Keep on Keeping On: The Life History of Mary Alice Henry, a long-time community activist in Chicago (1992-1996)


Dangerous and Endangered youth: Race and the Politics of Childhood in Urban America. (Forthcoming 2010).

“Stop the SuperJail for Kids: Youth Activism to Reclaim Childhood in the Juvenile Justice System” and “Youth Uprising: Gritty Youth Leadership Development and Communal Transformation” in Children, Youth and Social Work in Transformation: Implications for Policy and Practice, edited by Lynn Nybell, Jeff Shook and Janet Finn. (Columbia University Press, 2009).

“Ain’t No Power Like the Power of the Youth” Anthropology News October 2007.

“’Saving Our Sons’: the Criminalization of Black Boys and Dilemmas of Black Politics.” American Anthropological Association (November 2007).

Youth Voices and Youth Activism: Transforming the public sphere, panel organizer and discussion participant at American Studies Association (October 2006).

“Youth Politics in a Neoliberal City.” Paper presentation and panel organizer for Youth in an Uncertain Age: subjectivity, politics and neo-liberal governmentality at Society for Anthropology of North America Meeting (April 2006).

“Whose Streets? Youth Race and the Politics of Space in Oakland California.” Paper presentation and panel organizer for Contested Spaces of Youth: Remaking public and private space in late capitalism. American Anthropology Association Meeting (December 2005).

“Dangerous and Endangered Children: Redrawing and Contesting the Spatial and Legal Boundaries of Urban Childhoods.” Rutgers University Seminar Rethinking Childhood (March 2005).

“Potential Thugs and Potential Gangsters: Interpreting the Meaning of Youth in City Streets.” Urban History Conference (October 2004).

“Dangerous and Endangered Children: Shaping Politics and Policy-making around Youth Crime in Oakland, California.” Yale Working Group on Ethnography and Public Policy (March 2004).

“The Sideshow: Cruising, Hip Hop and Youth Struggles over Urban Space in Oakland, California.” Yale Ethnography and Social Theory Colloquium (December 2002).

“Dangerous Youth, Late Capitalism & the Local Contestations over the retrenchments of the Neo-Liberal State.” American Studies Association Conference (November 2002).

“Disciplining Youth: Black Nostalgia and Targeted Racial Profiling.” American Anthropological Association Conference (November 2002).

“Dangerous Youth, Fear and Public Policies: a Critique of Public Health Approaches to Youth Violence.” Yale University 1st Annual Medical Anthropology Conference (April 2002).

“Bus Lines Blurring the Boundary between Dangerous and Endangered Youth.” Great Lakes American Studies Conference (March 2001).

”Ain’t No Power Like the Power of the Youth: Youth Activism Against the Criminalization of Youth in California.” Youth Popular Culture Conference (February 2001).

Awards, Honors, Grants

Innovative Teaching Award, University of Redlands (2008-2009)

Fellow at Rutgers University Center for Children and Childhood Studies Seminar, Rethinking Childhood in the Twenty-First Century (2004)

Rackham Dissertation Writing Grant (2003)

Non-Profit and Public Organizations and Management doctoral research grant (2002-2003)

Visiting Fellow Michigan International Institute Seminar on Contested Childhoods (2001-2002)

Mellon Dissertation Writing Grant (2000-2001)

Mellon Pre-Dissertation Grant (1998)

Professional Affiliations

  • American Studies Association
  • American Anthropological Association
  • Society for the Anthropology of North America
  • Jennifer Tilton is the Faculty Sponsor for REACH (Read Empower Attain Create Hope)