A portrait of Dr Jordanna Matlon smiling and wearing a black shirt

I am an Associate Professor at the School of International Service at American University. During the 2023-2024 academic year I am a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, where I was also a postdoctoral research associate. I received my PhD in Sociology from UC Berkeley. Download my CV.

✉ jordanna.matlon [at] american.edu

✉ jcmatlon [at] gmail.com 

I have a new book under contract with Polity Press! Blackness as being: Black survival in the age of climate catastrophe bridges literatures on surplus populations, climate change, and racial capitalism to theorize the possibilities and precariousness of species-survival in the Anthropocene. It offers Blackness as an analytic to think with the paradox of precarious possibility – of past and present modalities of survival and of futures alternatively devastating or liberatory.

My prior research examined questions of race and belonging in urban Africa and the African diaspora. I probed how “Blackness” operates as a signifier, intersects with gender norms, manifests in popular culture, and illuminates our understanding of political economy. I employed qualitative methods in fieldwork in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire: ethnography, interviews, and visual analysis, to theorize Black masculinity in racial capitalism from Africa and the diaspora broadly. This research culminated in my book, A man among other men: The crisis of Black masculinity in racial capitalism (Cornell University Press, 2022).

A man among other men has received ten awards from five associations across four disciplines. It co-won the International Studies Association 2023 John Ruggie ISA Annual Best Book Award, the highest publication award in the discipline. It also won the International Studies Association 2023 Lee Ann Fujii Book Award in recognition of the best book published that significantly advances diverse issues in the field of international relations, and International Studies Association 2023 Global Development Studies Best Book. It received an honorable mention for the African Studies Association 2023 Best Book Prize. In sociology, my book has won the American Sociological Association Marxist Sociology Section 2023 Paul Sweezy Outstanding Book Award and co-won the Society for the Study of Social Problems Global Division 2023 Book Award. It received honorable mentions from the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Development Section 2023 Book Award, Race, Gender, and Class Section 2023 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award, and Sociology of Sex and Gender Section 2023 Distinguished Book Award. In anthropology, it received an honorable mention for the American Anthropological Association 2023 Society for the Anthropology of Work Best Book.

You can also read an interview I gave with the Economic Sociology section newsletter, Accounts. Reviews for my book are available with Africa, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Gender & Society, Journal of Anthropological Research, and Men and Masculinities. You can also read these fantastic book forums with Jason Jackson, Isabel Pike, Alexandre White,  and my response in Socio-Economic Review (OnlineFirst) and with Jean Beaman, Zophia Edwards, Ricarda Hammer, Robert Wyrod, and my response in Sociology of Race and Ethnicity. Stay tuned for a link to a 2022 interview and book symposium with Jessie Luna, Annie Hikido, A.K.M. Skarpelis, and Yannick Coenders published in the American Sociological Association’s Theory section newsletter, Perspectives, and for a forthcoming symposium with Antipode!

Listen to my conversation about the book with Mark Anthony Neal on his Left of Black podcast hosted by Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, as well as my Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics author-meets-critic session. And I enjoyed speaking to Annie Hikido in a conversation hosted by the Ethnographic Café (passcode =iv6J+zu). You can also check out my discussion of Black masculinity and the wage earner ideal on the Big World Podcast at AU’s School of International Service, and a panel on the culture of poverty myth and anti-Blackness that I moderated for the American Sociological Association’s Section on Culture. Finally, listen to my thoughts on decolonizing the sociological canon (beginning 37:20) hosted by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, and in conversation with Michael Burawoy and Freeden Blume Oeur.

For a take on some of my book’s theoretical ideas in earlier form, you can read my Boston Review  article, Black masculinity under racial capitalism,” and my American Sociological Review (ASR) article, Racial capitalism and the crisis of black masculinity.  My ASR article received the 2018 best article award from two American Sociological Association’s Sections: Race, Gender, and Class, and Global and Transnational Sociology. It received an honorable mention from the 2017 American Sociological Association’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities.