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Nina A. Johnson

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Program in Black Studies


  2. Phone: (610) 690-5773
  3. Kohlberg 243
  4. Office Hours: Tuesdays noon- 2:00pm, by appointment


Ph.D,  Sociology, Northwestern University, 2012
M.A., Sociology, Northwestern University, 2007
M.A., Culture and Communications, Steinhardt School of Education, New York University, 1999
B.A., Urban Studies and African American Studies, University of Pennsylvania 1997

Selected Publications and Activities

2020. Johnson, Nina A. "Unnatural Disaster: A Review of Dispossessed". Forthcoming in American Journal of Sociology.
2019. Johnson, Nina A. “On Democratizing Knowledge Production: Collaborative Research in Community” in Sociology in Action, Sage.
2018. Johnson, Nina A. “For, By, and About: Notes on a Sociology of Black Liberation” in The New Black Sociologists, Routledge.
2015. Johnson, Nina A. “Review: Top Student, Top School: How Social Class Shapes Where Valedictorians Go to College”. Contemporary Sociology.
2014. Johnson, Nina A. “A Long Way from Home: Race, Mobility and Residential Choice.” Journal of Black Studies, 2014, Vol. 45(6) 545–572.
2020. Johnson, Nina A. Black Privilege: Status and Stigma in the Lives of Black Elites. Manuscript under contract with Temple University Press.

Teaching and Research Interests

Politics, Culture, Race, Class, Mobility, Inequality, Cities, Carceral Policy, Qualitative Methods

Courses and Seminars Taught

  • Introduction to Black Studies (BS 15)
  • Blacks in the Diaspora (BS 93)
  • Foundations: Self, Culture, and Society (SOCI 001)
  • Introduction to Race and Ethnicity (SOCI 007B)
  • Black Social and Political Thought SOCI 048G/ BLST 040G)
  • Introduction to Ethnic Studies (SOAN 003SR)
  • Race and Place: A Philadelphia Story (SOCI 48I)
  • Political Sociology: The Mafia and the State (SOCI 48K)
  • Urban Crime and Punishment (SOCI 48L)
  • Advanced Topics in Political Sociology: Power, Governance, and the State (SOCI 148)
  • Du Bois and the Twenty First Century Color Line (SOCI 138)


Nina Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Program in Black Studies at Swarthmore College. Consistent with her previous study in Urban Studies, African-American Studies, and Culture and Communication, her research interests lie in the areas of inequality, politics, race, space, class, culture, stratification and mobility. She has recently published papers on political issues relative to black experiences of upward mobility and ruminations on a sociology of Black Liberation and contributed to a documentary (Turning A Corner, Beyondmedia Productions) on the legal, economic, and social barriers to exiting prostitution. She has presented papers on the representations of race, class and place in mid century black novels, including the work of James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and Zora Neale Hurston and a community video project on the impact of Islam on black religious, social and political life in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. Her book project revisits Du Bois’ and Frazier's classic works and considers issues of identity and meaning making processes among the black elite, its relationship to the larger black population, and its role in any projects of collective racial advancement. Her current research is a multi-method study of the impacts of mass incarceration at the neighborhood level, which is complemented by her teaching in Urban Sociology, Race and Public Policy in State Correctional Institutions in Pennsylvania. She is a member of both the Graterford Think Tank and the Chester Think Tank, two communities of scholars who work together to raise the level of public awareness of issues related to the criminal legal system and provide opportunities for engagement across the physical and social barriers that prisons create. 

She wholeheartedly endorses every word of James Baldwin, but finds the following particularly prescient in shaping and informing her work, “The time has come, God knows, for us to examine ourselves, but we can only do this if we are willing to free ourselves of the myth of America and try to find out what is really happening here.”