Congratulations to our 2023 David M. Howard Memorial Prize Winner, Karen Villegas

November 15, 2023

The Institute of Governmental Studies wishes to extend its congratulations to Karen Villegas, our 2023 David M. Howard Memorial Prize in American Politics recipient! 

About Karen: 

I am from the Inland Empire (IE!) and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA. As a Ph.D Candidate in the Berkeley School of Education, I think about the ways in which the powerful set the terms of order and the way we teach according to their codes. I study ways we assimilate nondominant communities – through English – in ESL citizenship classes. And I interrogate how ESL citizenship classes (my dissertation) do not foster a sense of political incorporation or belonging, and instead, position U.S. immigrants to identify as workers rather than citizens who can influence their world.

I am curious about the ways literacy defines our relations. I trace how literacy operates in service of white monoculture, in service of capital, and how literacy becomes an entry point into citizenship – into our hierarchical order. And yet, we share literacy with each other – beyond the grammars of extraction and exchange  – as proscribed by the relations of capital; which is to say: literacy is always in excess of capital and its epistemological dictates.

I am excited by the way we can build our own power – to act on literacy itself – as a way to work towards a counter-hegemonic order that breaks away from these dominant literacy practices and ideologies.  I am excited about the literacy praxises that question the unequal distribution of literacy opportunities and thus exploitation itself. Literacy traffics in oppression, but it is also a both/and: and I am most excited about how the conditions of oppression always creates the possibilities for an otherwise.

To read more about Karen, click here.