Affiliated Faculty

Naya Jones
  • Pronouns she, her, her, hers, herself
  • Title
    • Assistant Professor & Core Faculty in Global and Community Health Program
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Sociology Department
  • Affiliations Environmental Studies Department
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Rachel Carson College Academic Building, 322
  • Mail Stop Rachel Carson College Faculty Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High St.
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise African Diaspora, African American / Black Studies, Agroecology and Agriculture, Environmental Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Social Justice
  • Courses SOCY 143: Black Botanical Medicine in the Americas; SOCY 135: Healing Justice; SOCY 196S: Race, Somatics, and Food Pedagogy; SOCY 240: Inequality and Identity; SOCY 290: Autoethnography

Summary of Expertise

Short Bio:

Naya Jones, PhD (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UCSC and Core Faculty in the Global and Community Health Program. She is a critical geographer and cultural worker. With close attention to ways of knowing and the politics of knowledge, embodiment and sovereignty, her research focuses on interwoven Black geographies of health, ecologies, and healing. She also studies critical and embodied approaches to teaching and research. Her solo and collaborative work has been published in academic journals and on creative platforms. At UC Santa Cruz, she directs the Black Botany Studio, a research lab about Black plant knowledge amid climate injustice, on-going displacement, and everyday thriving. She also co-facilitates the Black Geographies Lab with Drs. Camilla Hawthorne, Savannah Shange, and James Doucet-Battle. Among current projects, Dr. Jones is crafting a book about Black botany and the Great Migration, the migration of an estimated six million Black Americans from the United States South to other parts of the country from the 1910s to the 1970s. Through autoethnographic and arts-based methods, she continues to explore Afro-Latinx and Black Mexican geographies in the 21st century. Her work has been supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Culture of Health Leaders), the Anne S. Chatham Fellowship (Garden Club of America), and the Wisconsin Arts Board (with Ms. Angela Smith). For publications, art, and more, visit



Testimonio/Notes on the Work

Ancestors, teachers, and community members with whom I continue to work, make the work possible. As a Black and Blaxicana artist-scholar, archiving, reclaiming, and reimagining "old ways" is central to my solo projects and collaborations. I regularly collaborate with cultural workers and artists, community healers and gardeners. These old ways are sometimes referred to as traditional medicine or indigenous knowledge in scholarship (and in public discourse), and I critically grapple with this language in the context of Black geographies. Drawing on Black diaspora spiritual practices and on bodies of knowledge such as Black feminism, my research and creative practice are grounded in ways of knowing that are embodied, multidimensional, and multi-sensory. I bring 14+ years as a healing justice practitioner to academic research, including past partnerships with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations and social justice organizations. This professional background and movement work, deeply inspires my committment to public and arts-based scholarship.



Research Interests

Black geographies of health and healing; Black ecologies; critical global health; reimagining ethnobotany; practice, reclamation, and politics of Traditional and Indigenous knowledges; food sovereignty; spirituality and activism; Afromexican studies; critical pedagogy; embodied pedagogy; arts-based methods.

Biography, Education and Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Primary Care Research - Medical College of Wisconsin

PhD, Geography & the Environment -  University of Texas at Austin

MA, Latin American Studies - University of Texas at Austin


Honors, Awards and Grants

Selected Recent Awards/Grants

2021-2022 | Sprout Grant (UCSC Institute for Social Transformation)


2020-2021 | Anne S. Chatham Fellowship for Medicinal Botany (Garden Club of America) 


2020-2021 | Folk Arts Apprenticeship Grant w/ Ms. Angela Smith (Wisconsin Arts Board)


2017-2020 | Culture of Health Leader (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

Selected Publications

  • Jones, N. 2023. "Reimagining Freire: Beyond Human Relations." Cultural Studies of Science Education, 18.


  • Hirsch, L. and Jones, N. 2021. "Incontestable: Imagining Possibilities through Intimate Black Geographies." Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Access >>   


  • Jones, N. 2021. "Prologue: Black Dream Geographies." Part of themed intervention in Transactions of the Institute of British GeographersAccess>>


  • Jones, N. 2020. "Intervention: Corner Stores, Surveillance, and All Black Afterlives." In Antipode OnlineOpen Access>>


  • Jones, N. 2019. "Dying to Eat? Black Food Geographies of Slow Violence and Resilience." In ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 18 (5), 1076-99. Open Access>> 


  • Cotter, E, and Jones, N. 2019. "Review of Latino/Latinx Participants in Mindfulness-Based Intervention Research." Mindfulness, 11.


  • Thomas, KD and Jones, N. 2019. "Critical Reflexivity: Teaching About Race and Racism in the Advertising Classroom." Advertising & Society Quarterly, 20 (2).


  • Jones, N. 2018. "'It Tastes Like Heaven”: Critical Food Pedagogy with Black Youth in the Anthropocene." In Policy Futures in Education, 17(7), 905-923.  


Selected Exhibitions

Virtual Exhibit & Article: Dying to Eat? Black Food Geographies of Slow Violence and Resilience