As a scholar- and professor-in-training, my path has been a winding route within the disciplines of Rhetoric & Composition, Linguistics, and finally Anthropology. Nevertheless, it has always centered on how language is performed for certain audiences, how such performances are evaluated, and the ways in which these performances are used to do things in the world. My dissertation — funded by the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship — utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach that merges traditions within cultural and linguistic anthropology (attending to expressive forms in artistic traditions and ethnopoetics), sociolinguistics, human geography, and urban planning literature.

Based on long-term immersion in Washington D.C.’s Spoken Word poetry scene during the height of gentrification, my research documents two renown venues in order to create a “thick description” of the art form and open mic culture. My work seeks to extend anthropology’s depiction of the intimate bonds between rural or indigenous communities and their lands to African American and low-income communities and their urban spaces — contributing to anthropology of tourism’s lifestyle traditions versus consumption literature, political economy’s language as intangible goods debates, as well as verbal art as performance’s discussion of transcendence and virtuosity.  

My interest in expressive forms is not limited to verbal art. In fact, I have already begun fashioning future research projects that will allow me to expand my analytical framework to include other performance arts.


  • Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship ($35,000), University of South Carolina (UofSC) 2019-2020
  • American Anthropological Association (AAA) Minority Dissertation Award, 2019-2020
  • UofSC Social Advocacy and Ethical Life, Presidential Teaching Fellowship ($22,000/yr.), 2014-2018
  • UofSC Institution of African American Research (IAAR) Fellowship ($1500), 2017-2018
  • UofSC SPARC Graduate Research Grant ($5000), 2017
  • Graduate School Travel Grant ($500), UofSC, Spring 2016, Fall 2016
  • Fieldwork Grants ($350), UofSC Anthropology Dept., Summer, 2018
  • Ann Kingsolver Grant for Oral History Research (~$300), UofSC Anthropology Dept, Summer 2017


Jones, T. M. 2016. “I’m Callin You Out!”: Spoken Word as Social (Inter)Action. Texas Linguistics Forum 59: 60-70. Austin: University of Texas.

Under Review

  • Jones, T.M. and E. Britt. “Mentoring Minorities, Misconceptions, and Missed Opportunities.” Presumed Incompetent II series. 


  • Jones, T.M. “The Curious Case of Rachel Dolezal: An Exploration of Racialization as Bourdieusian Practice and Foucauldian Materiality.” Institute for African American Research (IAAR). Scholar Commons Series, University of South Carolina.

In Progress

  • Jones, T.M. “Blurred Lines and Realities:  A Researcher’s Auto-Ethnographic Assessment of ‘Too-Muchness’ in Community Relationships.” Third Factor: A Magazine for Catalysts and Creatives.


Sessions Organized

  • Media and Marginalization: Disrupting Dominant Narratives of Gender and Race in Public Space Reviewed by Society of Linguistic Anthropology, American Anthropological Association (AAA), Minnesota, MN, 2017


  • (Re)Placing D.C.: Finding Home in the “Spoken Word.” Colloquium co-sponsored by the Institute for African American Research (IAAR) and Anthropology Graduate Organization for Research & Ethics (AGORAE), University of South Carolina, 2019
  • Online Negotiations of Authority and the Ideological Landscape of a ‘Post-Race’ America
    American Anthropological Association (AAA), Minnesota, MN, 2017
  • “I’m Callin You Out!”: Spoken Word as Social (Inter)Action,” Symposium About Language and Society – Austin (SALSA), Austin, TX Spring 2016
  • “Wha’chu Say He Say?!: Spoken Word as Performed Black Feminism,” Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL), New Orleans, LA, Spring 2016
  • “Get Up!: If Black English Isn’t a Language Them tell Me what Is,” Revitalizing James Baldwin’s Community Voice, SAMLA, Atlanta, GA, Fall 2014
  • “Unfinished Business: The Ebonics Debate After Oakland”, Roundtable for Why That Record Keep on Skippin’: Moving SRTOL Beyond the Same Song, Different Verse 35 Years Later, CCCC’s, San Francisco, CA, 2009 (accepted)
  • “You Done Lost Yo Mind, Ain’t no Such Thang as AAVE”, Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), New Orleans, 2008
  • “Why You Talkin’ White/Why Aren’t You Talking Right”, College Language Association (CLA), Charleston, S.C., 2008
  • “Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds You”, National Council for Black Scholars, Atlanta, GA, 2008

Workshops / Roundtables

  • “Perspectives of Place” Data Jam and Fieldwork Workshop, Socio/LingAnth Lab for University of South Carolina – Columbia, 2019
  • “Participatory Ethnographic Theater of the Contemporary: State of the Nation”, Co-Organizer with Debra Vidali, PhD, AAA, Washington, D.C., 2017