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Dr. Nicole Dezrea Jenkins

Nicole Dezrea Jenkins, PHD (She/ Her/ Hers)

Assistant Professor

  • Sociology & Criminology
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Honors Faculty
    COAS Honors Program



Dr. Nicole Dezrea Jenkins is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Howard University and current Harvard University Faculty Fellow. She received her Doctoral degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in the Department of Sociology in 2020. She obtained an M.A. in Sociology in 2017 and B.A. in Sociology in 2015 from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. In 2013, she received an A.A. in Criminal Justice after serving six years of active duty in the United States Air Force as Military Police. She is a proud advocate for social justice and committed to teaching with such emphasis on topics such as Sociology of Poverty and Problems of the Black Community. As a qualitative researcher and urban ethnographer, she incorporates intersectional and critical feminist frameworks into her own research, centering the experiences of women in the African Diaspora. ​ Her recent research project incorporates two years of ethnographic data collection in a Las Vegas African hair braiding salon. She finds that Black women's identity-making process is complex and perceptions of nationhood and Black womeness often impede the process. She is the recipient of the Princeton University Press Supportive Diverse Voices Book Proposal Development Grant and is currently working on her first book project from this research project, tentatively entitled CROWNed: Black Women’s Entanglement with U.S. Institutions

Her  Global Crowns research project on natural hair has been featured in Nature magazine (2024) and is intended to extend the conversation of natural hair discrimination globally by capturing the experiences of Black women around the globe who wear their natural hair. 


Education & Expertise



B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
2015, 2017, 2020

Criminal Justice

Community College of the Air Force


University Of Nevada Las Vegas


University of Nevada Las Vegas



Sociology of Poverty

Socioology of Poverty examines the underlying causes and the social, psychological, and political consequences of poverty; the socioeconomic characteristics and family life of the poor; and the community services and programs designed to alleviate poverty.The goal of this course is to explore poverty in the context of the United States from a sociological perspective from a practical standpoint. The course is designed to be both informative and useful in practice. Throughout the quarter we will discuss and learn about how poverty is defined, who sets this definition and explore some of the causes of poverty. Although there are many explanations, this course will use a sociological viewpoint to better understand how structures influence people and shape outcomes for individuals. Throughout the course we will read text that describe the everyday lives of those living in poverty and reflect upon how this impacts society as a whole. We will discuss the various policy and programs attempting to alleviate poverty and discuss their potential positive and negative impact. Furthermore, we will use this information to propose potential actions in the future to lessen and/or address the crisis of poverty.

Introduction to Sociology

Sociology is the study of social life and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. It investigates the structure of groups, organizations and societies, their information development and interaction. Since all human behavior is social, the subject matter of sociology ranges from the intimate family to the hostile mob; from crime to religion; from divisions of race, gender and social class to a shared belief of a common culture. The Sociology undergraduate program offers courses such as research methods, statistics, theory, computer based social science research and social organization and demographic analysis. This goal of this program is to equip students for employment in a wide range of occupational fields in the public and private sector, such as social research, the health professions, business, social service, and data processing. Sociology is a popular undergraduate major for students planning to further studies in such professions as law, business, education, social work and public administration. Professional recruiters are interested in well-rounded students with good analytical and communication skills.

Problems of the Black Community

Social Theory & Society

Principles of Ethnography

This graduate-level course explores the principles of ethnography as a qualitative research methodology and final written work. In sociology, ethnographic research is centered on understanding the lives of people and groups via examination of their everyday practices. Students will be exposed to various works that demonstrate the methodology of ethnography and the final written form. Using a critical lens, we seek to challenge the canon and explore works that center the Black Experience through ethnography. Using a critical feminist framework and an intersectional lens, we will explore identity and its influence in informing descriptions within the field and how oppression and identity can emerge within the field. 


Course Objectives 

In this writing-intensive course, graduate students will develop a well-informed understanding of the methodology of ethnography. Students will develop a thorough understanding of the interactions between researchers and participants in the field, with a focus on the necessary ethics associated with ethnographic research. Students will examine skills and techniques for entering the field, submerging themselves within the field, and collecting data.  By taking this course, students will be exposed to a variety of ethnographic approaches to building rapport, techniques of unstructured and “go-along” interviews, positionality and reflexivity in the field, and thick description field notes. Students will apply what they have learned from the literature and develop an ethnographic research proposal as the final class project. This course is designed to be the prerequisite in a two-part ethnographic research series. Upon completion of this course, students will be eligible to take Ethnographic Fieldwork, the second and final course in the series

Ethnographic Fieldwork

Brief Description 

This graduate-level course explores the second in a two-part series. In this course, students will use the foundations from Principles of Ethnography, in practice, through fieldwork, by combining theory and practice. Students will collect and analyze data using techniques of feminist ethnography. Throughout the semester, students will submit various assignments that, in combination, will result in a final research article. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Students who have not taken Principles of Ethnography are ineligible to take this course (no exceptions). 

Course Objectives 

In this field-intensive course, students will develop skills in ethnographic fieldwork. Students will develop a thorough understanding of data collection in the field in practice, centering the key components of participant observation, building rapport, and field notes. Building from the prerequisite course Principles of Ethnography, students will use learned techniques for entering the field, submerging themselves within the field, and collecting data.  By taking this course, students will put into practice techniques of unstructured and “go-along” interviews, positionality and reflexivity in the field, and thick description field notes. Students will apply what they have learned from the literature in the field and bring their experiences back to the classroom to share with their peers. We will use our field notes to learn how to create theoretical memos that combine data with theory. Students will share their field notes with the class and learn techniques of grounded theory for coding and analyzing data. Students will develop a final ethnographic research paper that includes preliminary data, findings, and an analysis of their data.




African Diaspora, Women's narratives, Ethnography



FAS Visiting Professorship Harvard University

On behalf of the Department of Sociology in the Faculty of Arts (FAS) and Sciences at Harvard University,

we are delighted to offer you an appointment as a FAS Dean’s Visiting Professor of Sociology for the 2024-

25 academic year. Your full-time appointment will begin on July 1, 2024, and end on June 30, 2025.

If you accept our offer, you are invited to participate in undergraduate instruction and teach a course in the

Department. We also invite you to be involved in advising and other academic activities, and to take an active

part in the life of the Department. The academic calendar, which lists important dates and deadlines, can be

found at Please note that faculty are expected to be

available through the final examination period.

Related Articles

Contested Identities African Diaspora and Identity Making in a Hair Braiding Salon

Most scholars of intersectionality argue that categories of inequality transform one another. In their empirical analysis, they routinely situate specific categories as master statuses, for example, “black woman” or “immigrant woman.” A growing group of scholars has begun to question the stability of these categories, arguing that context complicates even seemingly stable categories. Drawing on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in a hair-braiding salon located in the Las Vegas valley, where black West African immigrant women professionally braid black American women’s hair, I provide an empirical case that underlines how identity categories usually constructed as stable by sociocultural theorists are often internally contested within the communities that occupy them. My observations demonstrate that both West African and black American women contest competing explanations of what it means to be black women through boundaries. They rely on pejorative stories about the other group at a time when both antiblack racism and antiimmigrant sentiments are on the rise in the contemporary United States. In engaging in the politics of defining black womanhood within white patriarchy, the women reproduce gendered racial hierarchies., Nicole Dezrea. “Contested Identities: African Diaspora and Identity Making in a Hair Braiding Salon.” Journal of contemporary ethnography 48.6 (2019): 806–835. Web.