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