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A Third University Is Always Happening:

A Conversation with K. Wayne Yang

Act 1: Of Decolonization and its Metaphors

Prof Yang writes in A Third University is Possible, “To be very clear, I am not advocating for rescuing the university from its own neoliberal desires but rather for assembling decolonizing machines, to plug the university into decolonizing assemblages.” In Act 1, we talk to him about how he came to the work of radical teaching, the circulation of his scholarship beyond the academy, and the wide reverberations of his co-written (with Eve Tuck) article “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.”

Act 2: A Third University Is Always Happening

The University of California San Diego is on Kumeyaay land. The chancellor’s house is on an indigenous burial ground. How do universities move beyond guilt and toward a rematriation of the land? How do we teach, and train teachers, in these places with such violent history? How do we live and teach sustainably on this land? Yang, as his avatar la paperson, believes “a third university is possible. We talk about it in Act 2.

about our guest/s

K. 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).

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.