Decolonizing Universities: Part One of a Conversation with K. Wayne Yang

K. Wayne Yang

Wayne Yang is a scholar and organizer whose work transforms lines between these domains, and—we think we can say with confidence—spurs his many readers to engage in that same project. With over 15 years of experience as a high school teacher in Oakland, CA and as a current professor of ethnic studies at UC San Diego, Prof. Yang employs multiple qualitative methodologies in his research and activism, from youth participatory action research, to ethnographies of youth popular culture, to ethnographies of central administration, to critical cartographic methods. His work on settler-colonialism and ghetto colonialism within university initiatives to liberal so-called “community engagement” have been particularly powerful in calling educators to methods of refusal that “make transparent the metanarrative of knowledge production” and which “generate territories that colonial knowledge endeavors to settle, enclose, domesticate” (to quote the article “Unbecoming Claims” co-written with Eve Tuck).

And as an aside here, in her work with college debaters Lucia has seen firsthand how the articles “Refusing Research” and “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor” – both of which are co-written by Profs. Yang and Eve Tuck – has been embraced and celebrated by swaths of student-scholar-activists working to transform the norms around knowledge production, pain pedagogies, and discourses of expertise in their institutions.

Alongside and inseparable from his published work, Prof. Yang is the co-founder of nonprofit youth development organization Avenues Project and the co-founder of East Oakland Community School. He is the author (under the avatar la paperson) of A Third University is Possible (2017) and, with Eve Tuck, Yang has completed an edited book Youth Resistance Research and Theories of Change. His current book manuscript Organizing the Common Sense: Popular Culture and School Reform examines strategies for organizing in three educational landscapes—youth, community, and bureaucracy.