Jason Baird Jackson

Jason Baird Jackson

Ruth N. Halls Professor of Folklore and Anthropology

Director, Material Culture and Heritage Studies Laboratory

Co-Director, International Folklore Studies Center



  • Ph.D., Indiana University, 1998
  • M.A. , Indiana University, 1996
  • M.A. , Indiana University, 1995
  • B.A. , University of Florida, 1990

Research interests

  • craft, material culture
  • cultural heritage policy and practice
  • performance studies
  • ethnology
  • cultural history
  • museum collections
  • Southern United States
  • Native North America
  • Southeast Asian Massif/Southwest China

About Jason Baird Jackson

I am a folklorist, ethnologist, and cultural anthropologist whose current research is focused on heritage policies and practices, craft as a kind of material culture, and museum collections as resources for both historical ethnography and community-based cultural revitalization efforts. I lead two projects based in the Material Culture and Heritage Studies Laboratory that I direct. The first is primarily fieldwork-based and is known as the “Craft and Heritage in Upland Southwest China” project. The second is primarily museum-based and is known as the “Museum Ethnography in the Native South” project. These two projects build on a longer run of work studying in ethnographic museum collections since 1989, collaborating with Native American communities in Oklahoma (USA) since 1993, and with colleagues and partner institutions in China and the United States since 2013.

While my current research is focused on the areas noted above, my broader research program touches on a much wider range of issues, including studies of ritual, storytelling, oratory, music and dance, ethnobotany, social organization, cultural history, and issues of historical consciousness. I also work on general conceptual and theoretical issues in folklore studies and ethnology, including questions of traditionalization, appropriation, property, and heritage. I am interested in the history of the “Americanist tradition” in North American anthropology and folkloristics as well as other regional and provincial “traditions” of work in these fields, particularly those rooted in Northern Europe and East Asia. While folklore studies, ethnology, and cultural anthropology are the labels that attach to me and to my work most obviously, my approach to these overlapping fields has been shaped by engagements with the anthropological subfield of linguistic anthropology, the interdisciplinary field of ethnohistory, and the neighboring discipline of sociology in which I was initially trained.

While some of the graduate and undergraduate students with whom I work are closely linked to the ongoing group projects that I lead, others pursue independent work that is intersectional with my broader set of interests. I welcome inquiries from prospective graduate students. Supporting the research endeavors of graduate and undergraduate students is one of the most meaningful aspects of my work.

Courses recently taught

  • Curatorship
  • Folklore Theory in Practice
  • Material Culture Studies
  • Craft and Its Study
  • Cultural Heritage and Property
  • World Arts and Cultures

Awards & Distinctions

  • 2019: Elected to the Fellows of the American Folklore Society
  • 2015, 2005: IU Trustee Teaching Award
  • 2010-11: GPSO/IU Graduate School Faculty Mentor Award