Jennifer Tilton

Associate Professor
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 urban anthropologist, with interests and experience in youth work and community organizing. Her forthcoming book, Dangerous or Endangered: Race and the Politics of Youth in Urban America explores local debates about how to save and discipline young people in Oakland, California, a city characterized by extraordinary racial diversity and on-going deep racial and class divides at the turn of the 21st century. The stories and struggles of activists in this one city 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? By linking a study of urban space and urban politics, this book offers a new way to understand and the shifting nature of the divide between public and private.

Jen Tilton’s on-going teaching and research explores the deepening class divides in children’s daily lives and the landscapes of childhood. She is also interested in developing new models of community-based research and community-service learning. Her future research projects will emerge out of community-collaborations she is forging within the diverse communities of the Inland Empire. At Redlands, she has worked with students to develop R.E.A.C.H., a new community-service learning project that brings U of R students to work with incarcerated youth in juvenile hall through a partnership with the San Bernardino County Probation department and San Bernardino County Schools. We publish juvenile’s writings monthly with the Beat Within, a national magazine written by and for incarcerated youth.

Courses Offered

REST 120 Introduction to Race and Ethnic Studies

REST 225. Childhood and Juvenile Justice

REST 260. Hip hop and Racial Politics

REST 352 Race and Social Protest

REST 330 Race in the City

REST 260 (May term) Urban Crisis and Renewal: a case study of San Bernardino


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)