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June Gordon

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From Gangs to the Academy: Scholars Emerge by Reaching Back Through Critical Ethnography

Gordon discusses how she has incorporated the voices of marginalized university students into the foundation of her course on “Race, Culture, and Class.” Gordon invited her students who were ex-gang members to participate in an ethnographic research project in which they interviewed other gang members from their home communities. These students then shared their research findings in the class and, in turn, educated more privileged middle-class UCSC students on the complex realities of urban life. Gordon found that “engaging students in authentic research and inquiry brings about their own best efforts and eventual success.” In the process of conducting and sharing their research, the once marginalized students found a bridge to their own changed position as university students.

youth, critical ethnography, new pedagogy, education — higher education — United States, ethnicity — United States, social classes — United States, youth — youth gangs

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 29, No. 4 (2002): 71-81