Department of Geography and the Environment

Naya Jones

Research FellowPhD, Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin

Critical Geographer & Healing Arts Practitioner
Naya Jones



Critical health studies; critical food studies; black food geographies; black geographies; traditional healing; racial trauma; environmental knowledge; community-based scholarship; critical pedagogy; arts-based methods; Black, Xicana, and indigenous feminisms; Black Diaspora (North and Latin America)


Dr. Naya works at the nexus of critical geography and healing arts. Her research and practice focus on embodied geographies of race/racism, place, food, environmental knowledge, and healing, with emphasis on Black geographies (North and Latin America). With a close attention to process, much of her work emphasizes arts-based methods and teaching. The overarching theme in her work is community power and radical resilience, especially in the context of spatial trauma such as gentrification, displacement, and climate injustice. Starting fall 2020, she will be an Assistant Professor in Sociology and core faculty in Global and Community Health at the University of California Santa Cruz. 

Naya infuses projects with healing arts, including guided meditation and movement, ceremony, breath work, and other practices that support culturally-affirming, embodied, and intuitive inquiry. She brings certification in trauma-informed yoga therapy and Reiki/energy work to research, in addition to training in restorative yoga. As a practitioner-scholar, she also puts critical geography into practice as Owner of Rootwork. Launched in 2008, Rootwork is a healing arts & design consultancy that partners with BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color)-led organizations and justice-centered organizations. Naya continues to learn "old ways," or traditional medicine, with elders. 

Currently, Naya is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Primary Care Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a nationally-selected Culture of Health Leader, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Naya is deeply inspired by her "roots" as a Blaxicana (African-American and Xicana). 

Grounding Framework(s)

Black geographies. Mind/body medicine. Somatics and body work. Blaxicana healing ways. Critical participatory action research (CPAR). 


Arts-based, GIF-making, somatic inquiry, textual analysis, oral history, qualitative, community-based. 


Works by Katherine McKittrick, Toni Morrison, Clyde Woods, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Gloria Anzaldúa, Jacqui M. Alexander. Omi Osun Jones, and AnaLouise Keating, among others.  


Selected Recent Writings + Works

Cotter, E. and Jones. N. 2019. Review of Mindfulness Meditation Research and Latinx Participants. Mindfulness.

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

Jones, N. 2019. "Receta for Radical Wholeness." In Voices from the Ancestors: Xicanx and Latinx Spiritual Expressions and Healing Practices, Medina, L. and Gonzales, M.G. (Eds.)   

Thomas, KD. and N. Jones. 2019. "Critical Reflexivity: Teaching About Race and Racism in the Advertising Classroom." Advertising & Society Quarterly 20(2). doi:10.1353/asr.2019.0013.

Jones, N. 2019. "(Re)Visiting the Corner Store: Black Youth, Gentrification, and Food Sovereignty." In Race in the Marketplace: Crossing Critical BoundariesJohnson, G.D., Thomas, K.D., Harrison, A., Grier, S.A. (Eds.)

Jones, N. 2018. “It tastes like heaven”: Critical and embodied food pedagogy with Black youth in the Anthropocene. Policy Futures in Education

  • Department of Geography and the Environment

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E. 23rd Street, A3100
    RLP 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712