Jenna Christian


I am a dual-degree doctoral candidate in the Departments of Geography and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. My resarch broadly engages feminist theory, education, and critical human geography in the study of the U.S. military, race, citizenship, education, social movements, and everyday geopolitical processes. My primary research projects also include:

  • Doctoral research (2012-present): My dissertation research consisted of a 2.5-year ethnographic study of race, citizenship, and military enlistment among Latinx and Black youth in Houston, Texas. While youth are often regarded as apolitical subjects, my research examines the geopolitical lives of young people. Using interviews, long-term observation, and arts-based methods grounded in feminist methodologies, I examined military educational programming (specifically the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps), military recruiting targeting youth, and youth enlistment decisions in relation to the opportunities and obstacles in their lives. With military enlistment embedded within systems of violence in the city, school, and nation, and I also work closely with activist groups responding the such violence, including Black Lives Matter and immigrant and undocumented youth groups. Broadly, my findings reveal how raced, classed, and gendered notions of citizenship and belonging shape both state violence in the city and the creation of a national military. A key aspect of this work is the use of visual art and comics, which are included in my dissertation and used for dissemination of my research to the public.

  • Master's research (2010-2012): My thesis, titled Postwar transformations: Women and the work of peace in postwar Liberia, examined the diverse and changing meanings and practices of peace in Liberia. The research was done with members of the Liberian women's peace movement, which played an influential role both in ending the conflict and in political life and recovery following the 2003 Peace Accord. The project investigated how women did peace work in the "postwar" and what opportuntiies and constraints they encountered due to the massive influx international peacemaking, peacekeeping, and development programming.

  • Pennsylvania Education Equity Project (PEEP): Collaborative research with Education PhD students at Penn State, which focused on immigration policing, citizenship, and belonging in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. A journal submission for publication of this research is in-progress.


Personal Website

My art, comics, and public writing about Houston, feminism, and activism are available at:

Research Interests

  • Feminist Geopolitics
  • race
  • citizenship
  • arts-based methods

Research Focus

feminist geopolitics, race and citizenship, arts-based methods


  • M.S. Geography and Women's Studies, Penn State, 2012
  • B.S., University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 2010

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 20: Introduction to Human Geography
  • GEOG 30: Geographic Perspectives on Sustainability
  • WMNST 100: Introduction to Women's Studies
  • GEOG 1303: World Regional Geography (Houston Community College)
  • GEOG 128: Geography of International Relations


Christian, J., L. Dowler, and D. Cuomo. (2016). Fear, Feminist Geopolitics and the Hot and Banal. Political Geography. 54: 64-72

Dowler, L., J. Christian, and A. Ranjbar. (2014). A Feminist Visualization of the Intimate Spaces of Security. Area. 46(4): 347-349.

Christian, J., Vogeler, I., Moua, P.S. (2008-2009). The Cultural Landscape of the Hmong in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Geographer. 23.


  • Miller PhD Paper Award, Penn State Geography, "Creative geopolitics: art and solidarity as feminist geopolitical praxis", 2017
  • Sara Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Penn State Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, 2016
  • National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, 2015 
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2011-present
  •  Penn State Africana Research Center Travel Grant, 2012 and 2014
  •  FLAS, Foreign Language Area Studies Summer Language Fellowship, 2010
  •  University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire Student Research Grant, 2008


  • Association of American Geographers
  • AAG Specialty Groups: Geographic Perspectives on Women, Political Geography, Cultural Geography
  • American Educational Research Assocation
  • Penn State Supporting Women in Geography