New Series from Routledge!

Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education

Series Editors Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang

We are now accepting book proposals for this series!

To submit a proposal, email a proposal with an introduction, scope, chapter-by-chapter description, discussion of target audiences and competing titles to Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang at and

Sample proposal

Series description (also see below)

Aims and Scope

Indigenous and decolonizing perspectives on education have long persisted alongside colonial models of education, yet too often have been subsumed under broader domains of multiculturalism, critical race theory, and progressive education. In addition to many other unique attributes, Indigenous and decolonizing studies engage incommensurabilities fashioned by (settler) colonialism and our relations within and outside it.  By attending to Indigenous worldviews and decolonizing theory as distinct philosophical traditions, this provocative series hones the conversation between social justice education, and Indigenous and decolonizing studies. Timely and compelling, the Indigenous and decolonizing studies in education series features research, theory, and foundational reading for educators and educational researchers who are looking for possibilities beyond the limits of liberal democratic schooling. 


This series brings together the central concerns of Indigenous and decolonizing studies with the innovative contributions of social justice education. The books in this series have a commitment to social change with a specific material politics of Indigenous sovereignty, land, and relationships.  Because the material politics of decolonization and Indigeneity connect and sometimes abrade with social justice educational research and practices, the books in this series will engage the political incommensurabilities that generate possibilities for education.  Topics addressed by the series have drawn increased attention in recent years, and the series is poised to speak to ongoing social and educational challenges including education reform, climate change and environmental degradation, school control and decision making, and the very purposes of schooling and education.  In the sections that follow, we discuss the domains of Indigenous and decolonizing studies and social justice education in order to describe the ideas which form the foundation for the series.

Indigenous Studies and Decolonizing Studies

Writing about the founding of Native American studies in the early 1970s, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn describes the primary commitments of the field as concerned with Indigenous land, Indigenous sovereignty, and the “endogenous study of First Nations cultures and history;” (1997, p. 11, italics original) that is, the study of Indigenous lives and issues by Indigenous peoples.  Linda Tuhiwai Smith (2012), Shawn Wilson (2008) Margaret Kovach (2009) and Bagele Chilisa (2011) describe corresponding central commitments within Indigenous studies emerging in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and Botswana.  Contemporary works in Indigenous studies are dynamically diverse and interdisciplinary, yet the very best works attend to those first commitments: land, sovereignty, and Indigenous perspectives.   

As an extension of Indigenous studies, Indigenous methodologies of inquiry seek to regenerate Indigenous ways of knowing and research, and craft educational spaces for Indigenous peoples, by Indigenous peoples (Smith, 2012).  Many discussions of Indigenous methodologies highlight the role of Indigenous cosmologies, axiologies, and epistemologies in the design and implementation of research (Smith, 2012; Wilson, 2008; Kovach, 2009; Chilisa, 2011).  Indigenous research methodologies emerge from Indigenous epistemologies or knowledge frameworks so they are always people and place-specific (Smith, 2012; Tuck & McKenzie, 2015).  The same Indigenous research methods may be used across many contexts, but will always need to be tailored to that context to match community needs and understandings of knowledge and knowing.

Indigenous research methods are distinct from other research methods not because they are so vastly different—many Indigenous methods include interviews, focus groups, surveys, archival research and other tried-and-true methods of social science—but because of the theories that guide them.  One of the distinguishing features of Indigenous research methodologies is that they are built upon the concept of relational validity or “relational accountability” (Wilson, 2008, p. 77).  In other words, what is most “important and meaningful is fulfilling a role and obligations in the research relationship—that is, being accountable to your relations” (Wilson, 2008, p. 77).  Creating and maintaining respectful and mutually beneficial relationships between researchers and Indigenous communities (even when the researcher comes from the community) is of utmost importance, in part because Indigenous peoples have sometimes been mistreated and misled by academic researchers, both in the distant and recent past (Smith, 2012; Wilson, 2008; Tuck & Guishard, 2013).  Theories accountable to these relations between land, sovereignty, belongingness, time and space, reality and futurity shape Indigenous research methods (i.e., Goeman, 2013; Byrd, 2011; Salmón, 2012).

Decolonization studies are informed by Indigenous theory, history, epistemology, and futurity.  Decolonization studies emphasize the ways that colonization and decolonization are time-specific and land-specific (Fanon, 1963; Tuck & Yang, 2012).  Theories of colonialism have largely focused on what is sometimes called exogenous domination (Veracini 2011), exploitation colonialism, or external colonialism—three names for the same form.  In this form of colonization, small numbers of colonizers go to a “new” place and dominate a local labor force in order to send resources back to the metropole, for example the spice trade that impelled the colonization of India by several different European empires.  Exploitation colonialism, its nature, consequences, endgame and post-possibilities have been the focus of (what would become) the field of postcolonial studies for the past fifty years. Though settler colonialism has been resisted and systematically critiqued by Indigenous philosophers since its outset, it has only been in the last two decades that settler colonialism has been more comprehensively theorized in academe, mostly via the emergence of the field of settler colonial studies.  Settler colonialism is a form of colonization in which outsiders come to land inhabited by Indigenous peoples and claim it as their own new home (Tuck, McKenzie & McCoy, 2014; see also Hinkinson, 2012).

 In settler colonial contexts like the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, theories of decolonization bring together critiques of settler colonialism, borders, and conceptualizations of antiblackness.  That is, settler colonialism in the United States, for example, is the context for the destruction of Indigenous peoples to acquire land, and the enslavement of people from the continent of Africa to as units of capital for trade, for labor and for disposal (Smallwood, 2007).  Thus, decolonization from settler colonialism in the United States will require a repatriation of Indigenous land and abolition of slavery in all of its forms (Tuck & Yang, 2012). Since the technologies of slavery and land appropriation are reapplied in novel ways to new lands and bodies, understandings of empire (Byrd, 2011), borders (Calderon, 2014), queerness (Morgenson, 2010), disability (Erevelles, 2011) labor and antiblackness (King, 2014) elucidate the features of settler colonialism.

Afro-pessimist theories and conceptualizations of antiblackness consider the ways that settler colonial structures require the invention of race, the specificity of blackness as criminal, landless, and forgone.  Such analyses seek to understand how antiblackness determines relationships to the state, land, geography, and other peoples (in the tradition of Wilderson, 2010; Spillers, 2003; McKittrick, 2006).  Theories and conceptualizations of blackness that engage the possibilities in blackness for agency, futurity, fugitivity (Harney & Moten, 2013; Moten, 2014), monstrosity (Kaplan, 2007), and relationships to Indigeneity (King, 2013; Tuck, Guess & Sultan, 2014) are particularly relevant to theorizing decolonization within settler colonial contexts.

Decolonizing studies at the border attend to how coloniality shapes and severs human and nonhuman relationships across land, nation-state, waters, and across time (Calderon, 2014). These efforts learn from analyses at the intersection of Chican@ studies and Indigenous studies, Pacific Islander studies and Indigenous Studies, Black studies and Indigenous Studies, diasporic studies and Indigenous studies, and critical Muslim/Arab studies and Indigenous Studies.

 Decolonizing studies, when most centered in Indigenous philosophy, push back against assumptions about the linearity of history and the future, against teleological narratives of human development, and argue for renderings of time and place which exceed coloniality and conquest. 

Social Justice Education

Whereas Indigenous and decolonizing approaches are attentive to relational validity as described above, social justice education is concerned with catalytic validity (Lather, 1991; see also Fine, 2008). That is, what is valid in research is that which resonates with people’s lives, and informs their power to make change. Social justice education in this respect has a general commitment to social change, even though that change is not necessarily decolonizing.  Nonetheless, the drive to create theory and research that matters to people’s lives is relevant to decolonizing and Indigenous studies. The contributions of social justice in education have broad implications for pedagogy, curriculum, schooling, educational policy, and social movements.

Critical pedagogy is one site of radical critique of education, rooted in sometimes Marxist (McLaren, 2003), sometimes postmodern (Giroux, 1991) desires for social transformation. Current scholarship on critical pedagogy interrogates pedagogy not simply as effective classroom practice, but as a source of praxis that has a present purpose and future purpose toward change (Picower, 2012; Au, 2012; Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008).  Postcritical pedagogy (Lather, 1995) is concerned with challenging and deconstructing the patriarchal tendencies of critical pedagogy, especially tendencies which install barriers for everyday people to speak for themselves (p. 180)

 Overlapping with critical pedagogy is curriculum studies (Pinar, 1995; Malewski, 2010) which arose from examinations of how schooling as well as other state institutions inculcate people for their place within capitalism. On the surface, curricular content is taught in schools, but the deeper lesson entails a “hidden curriculum” (Apple, 2004) that normalizes class, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and race. Thus, curriculum studies is fundamentally concerned with articulating how the disciplinary procedures in schooling connect to unequal relations of power in society. Critical race scholars in education have taken the class-centric, poststructuralist analyses of curriculum studies, and fractured them through the fundamental difference that difference makes at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. Signithia Fordham (2014) examines how Black student success in school is predicated on a taking up “the burden of acting white” (p.98, emphasis original). By highlighting the psychic costs of Black success, Fordham troubles the frameworks of social (class) reproduction (e.g. Bowles & Gintis, 1976; MacLeod, 1995) that can imply social (class) mobility as the end of anti-oppressive education. Rather, blackness and middle class habitus are dissonant identities that do not resolve, not even over generations, as it might in the case of white lower-to-middle class mobility. These analyses of race (gender, sexuality) might be seen by some as a development in, or reconceptualization of curriculum studies (Jupp, 2013). However, Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández (2006) forwards the idea of “browning” of curriculum studies as a refusal of the linear narrative of curriculum studies as ‘originating’ from white fathers of critical theory, then progressing towards a multicultural inclusion of non-whiteness into the curriculum studies. Browning is a kind of stain that resurfaces, that calls to attention the continuing reassertions of white supremacy and colonialism not only in curriculum, but in curriculum studies and thus the theorizations of how power operates and how change occurs. Browning gestures towards the possibilities for Indigenous and decolonizing studies to refuse settler colonial replacement (Tuck & Gaztambide-Fernández, 2013; see also Calderon, 2014), that is, the re-assimilation and re-incorporation of Indigenous theory under a patrilineal critical theory.

Beyond pedagogy and curriculum, educational research also seeks to understand the role of institutions, especially schools, to compel or constrain social change. Social change is most conventionally conceived of in educational research as, how can we make schools (and society) less unjust? or how can we improve schooling outcomes? These approaches to change might be best described as “harm reduction” (Jacobs, 2009) and expansion of “public good”. Harm reduction models seek to alleviate the consequences of white supremacy and colonialism - by treating their symptoms as historical inequities to be mitigated. Expansion treats the idealized white, middle class, unrestrained citizen-consumer as a uninterrogated standard for the empowered social actor, and thus the social, cultural, and economic benefits of whiteness as public goods to be gradually expanded to non-white peoples. Such approaches to change are often framed by the premise of “gaps” in achievement and wealth to be narrowed. Scholarship on social transformation, by contrast, challenge these paradigms of reducing harm and expanding good, by insisting that the distribution of harm and good reflects a fundamental social structure of which schools are a part - and it is that structure that must be transformed. By refusing notions of gaps in achievement and opportunity (Ladson-Billings, 2006), such scholarship works to uncover debts: the actively accumulating cost of colonialism that accrues to racially Othered bodies in order to produce (settler) white wealth and privilege.

A lens of social transformation critically examines the relationship between change and institutions, but does not necessarily assume institutions of schooling to be vehicles of social change in and of themselves (Anyon, 2014; Noguera, 2003). Anyon (2014) examines the “radical possibilities” of connecting social movements to school transformation. Her concern is how to organize meaningful relationships between educational practitioners, learners and community members in effecting social change. Similarly, Noguera (2003) is interested in how to “break the cycle of poverty” - a cycle that is raced and classed - and he looks at schooling as one of multiple institutions that must be transformed to do so.

As such, educational research unravels the tangles of complicity, contradictory relationships with the institution, contradictory relationships with the state (Dimitriadis, 2003; Camangian, 2013; Patel, 2013a). This dis/entanglement attempts to render an understanding of agency within and despite structures (Willis, 1990), for researchers and the researched communities both. Thus, critical educational research intervenes into poststructural analyses that reify the disciplinary power of institutions and the sheerness of hegemony. Such scholarship is animated by agency, by contradictory desires for access to (Patel, 2013a) and for escape from (Fine, 1991; Tuck, 2012) states and institutions.

Indigenous and decolonizing studies in education

Now that we have identified the most salient features of Indigenous and decolonizing studies and social justice education, we turn to their intersections, and implications.  This discussion is intentionally brief because this is the terrain of the proposed series—we have chosen three exemplars to demonstrate what becomes possible in bringing Indigenous and decolonizing studies into conversation with social justice education and educational research. 

Red pedagogy.  Sandy Grande (2004), drawing upon McLaren (2003), describes the importance of a revolutionary critical pedagogy for Indigenous education. In particular, Grande highlights how critical pedagogy is a collective process that utilizes a Freirian dialogical learning approach that is critical of the underlying structures of oppression, systematic in its inquiry into the theory and practice, participatory in involving communities members and organizations in change making, and creative in employing popular texts and people’s cultural productions to re-read society (Grande, 2004, p.25).  Grande writes, “Such principles are clearly relevant to [Indigenous communities] and their need for pedagogies of disruption, intervention, affirmative action, hope, and possibility” (p. 26). Grande observes that non-Indigenous revolutionary pedagogies fail to consider a fundamental difference between revolutionary democracies and Indigenous sovereignty (see also Brayboy, 2005). This difference made evident in critical pedagogy’s frequent promotion of practices that foster an empowered critical citizenry for greater participation and integration in the nation-state (Morrell, 2008; Dewey, 1997), in contrast to Indigenous approaches that seek self-determination from a colonizing state (Smith, 2012; Grande, 2004; Brayboy, 2005; Abdi, 2011; Coulthard, 2014). Grande describes a “red pedagogy” as one that attends to decolonization in its material politics, in order to recognize and nurture Indigenous practices of present and future change.

Decolonial participatory action research.  Consistent with concepts of sovereignty and decolonization is education research that centers the expertise of youth and communities about the neighborhoods and institutions they inhabit, and the saliency of that expertise in making policy and social change (Cammarota & Fine, 2008). Participatory Action Research (PAR) describes one set of methodological approaches that attempt to accomplish this ground and grassroots knowledge production. That people come to know things through their lived lives and that knowledge matters, is often attributed only to PAR. Yet educational researchers develop this kind of positionality in terms of their participation and in terms of the theory of knowledge through a range of methodological approaches, such as critical ethnography, public science, collaborative interviews, participatory performance, community mapping, to name a few (Guishard & Tuck, 2014). These different methodologies deconstruct the power of research and researcher, in order to construct knowledge that is valid for empowered communities. Decolonizing participatory research approaches make explicit how knowledge is territorialized (Simpson, 2007); namely, the university is settler colonial in its acquisitions of ‘data’ on Indigenous and non-white communities (Tuck & Yang, 2014), in its framing of these communities as pathologically Other (Patel, 2013b), and in its theorizing of how change ought to happen to these communities (Tuck & Yang, 2014). Thus the acquisitive ethics of research, the archives of data, and the theorizations are part of an academic knowledge territory. Decolonizing participatory methods draw limits to this territory, by refusing to hand over anything and everything to the academic enterprise, by drawing attention to power’s code of ethics (Tuck & Guishard, 2013), by re-presenting the taken-as-natural knowledge territories of Indigenous thought-worlds (Smith, 2012), and by “theorizing back” at power about its abuses in the guise of change (Guishard & Tuck, 2014).

Culturally responsive and sustaining education for Indigenous students.  Although culturally responsive education has been a concern for Indigenous education since the emergence of colonial boarding schools (Brayboy, 2005; Brayboy & Castagno, 2009; Lomawaima & McCarty, 2006), and for Black education (Walker, 1996), Chican@/Latin@ education (Solorzano & Yosso, 2000), and “urban” education as a general marker for minoritized communities of color (Delpit, 1995; Ladson-Billings, 1995), the impact of Indigenous epistemologies that engage the metaphysical, the communal, the intergenerational, and the past, present and future possible has been profound in recent scholarship (Villegas, Neugebauer & Venegas, 2008).  Django Paris (2012) proposes a need for a “change in stance, terminology and practice” beyond what is commonly called culturally responsive pedagogy to “culturally sustaining practice” (p.93). Such a stance focuses on not so much on the translation of schooling into culturally responsive materials for the purposes of achievement, but positions education as the vehicle for sustaining cultural knowledges that have otherwise been targeted for extinction. In this way, Paris’ work draws from Indigenous philosophies of education.

Research methods, particularly those driven by an ethics of community participatory design, have developed greatly through different Indigenous understandings of reciprocity and intergenerational relationships. For example, inspired by the Mother Earth Walks that began in 2003, community members and Indigenous academic researchers who were members of the Chicago inter-tribal American Indian community created an intergenerational community research project that would bring together more than one hundred Indigenous community members to design and implement innovative science learning environments for Indigenous youth and community in Chicago (Bang et al., 2014).

Timing and Audience

In the past twenty years, around the globe, Indigenous and decolonizing studies have grown dramatically.  Doctoral and Master’s Programs in Native American, American Indian, Maori, Aboriginal, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Studies and been established in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  In the past few years, several relevant journals have been founded, including Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society (Open access, 2012), Settler Colonial Studies (Open access now subscription, 2011), Critical Ethnic Studies (Subscription, 2013-4), and Native American and Indigenous Studies (Subscription, 2013).  The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), was founded in 2007, and will hold its 9th annual meeting in Washington, DC in June 2015.

Some of the most exciting work in Indigenous/decolonizing studies is being done by education scholars, and many of the most germane and provocative ideas in education are being produced by Indigenous and decolonial scholars.  Though Native American studies and Indigenous studies have traditionally been engaged by disciplines such as history, anthropology, art history, humanities, and archaeology, NAISA’s annual meeting now regularly features the contributions of scholars in education.  Likewise, major education associations including the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Educational Studies Association (AESA) and their international counterparts have highlighted the work of scholars in Indigenous education in major plenary sessions, journal special issues, and working groups.  Every other year since 1987, the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPC:E) meets, bringing several thousand academic and nonacademic educators, researchers, teacher educators, and community members to discuss issues of Indigeneity and education.  Further, memberships of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Special Interest Group and the Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Special Interest Group in AERA have grown exponentially in the past decade.  At AERA’s 2015 meeting, more than 100 sessions will attend to Indigenous issues.

In part, the increased attention to Indigenous and decolonizing issues in education can be attributed to the reach of several high-impact books, including Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s 1999 Decolonizing Methodologies (Zed Books), and Sandy Grande’s 2004 Red Pedagogy (Rowman & Littlefield).  Both books now/soon have second editions which expound upon earlier ideas in light of the growth of the field.  But the increased attention can also be attributed to the ways the field uniquely responds to educational concerns related to culturally responsive education, diversity and multicultural/multilingual education, environmental education and climate change, school dropout, and teacher education.  People are paying attention to what Indigenous and decolonizing studies in education have to say. 

Emerging scholars, early and mid-career scholars, and renowned scholars alike have produced widely-read books at the intersection of Indigenous/decolonizing studies and education.

For these reasons, we believe that the proposed book series is optimally timed.  Interest in Indigenous and decolonizing studies in education has grown steadily over the past two decades with more rapid growth in the past five years.  There are no competing series now, but it is only a matter of time before one is established.  As authors who participate in the associations, journals, and programs described above, our role as series editors will be to apply our expertise and engage our networks to ensure that the series is at the cutting edge of Indigenous and decolonizing studies in education, indeed shaping the field for future generations of scholars and practitioners.  The proposed series is poised to influence the trajectory and scope of the field.

The series’ primary audience will be students and academics in the aforementioned graduate programs, professional associations, and journal readerships.  This series will include titles that might otherwise (less effectively) get subsumed under multicultural education, critical education, or social justice education, and will draw readers interested in those topics.  Books in the series will primarily comprise academic texts, with some volumes geared toward practitioners and other research users.  The series will include a transdisciplinary range of texts that cover multiple methods, formats, and topics in education, which share in the larger project of articulating decolonizing and Indigenous studies in education. As the series progresses, we intend to publish books in the following categories:

●       Empirical research

●       History and archival research

●       Research methodologies, methods, ethics

●       Pedagogy

●       Curriculum

●       Teaching, Teacher education

●       Theory, Conceptual arguments

●       Out of school education models

●       Collaborations--communities, tribes, universities, researchers

●       Edited volumes of education-relevant collected works by renowned Indigenous  philosophers including Oscar Kawagley, Beatrice Medicine, Vine Deloria Jr., Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, and Gerald Vizenor

●       Educational policy and law

●       Educational leadership

●       Cultural production, new media, and reclaimed educational models

We anticipate that volumes in the series will be adopted in undergraduate and graduate courses in Native American Studies, Indigenous Studies, ethnic studies, educational foundations, educational leadership, curriculum studies, multicultural studies, research methods, and educational policy.  Targeted adoptions might occur based upon the specific topics or cultural sites in each volume.  As the series progresses, we anticipate publishing volumes authored by scholars writing in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, and perhaps from Brazil, Taiwan, South Africa, Tibet, and other territories.  Thus, additional targeted adoptions might be appropriate based on location.