Re-Mixing Making: examining the Intersections of Hip Hop Culture, Maker Spaces, and Social Justice Education

In: The International Journal of Critical Media Literacy
Author: Michael Dando1
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  • 1 Assistant Professor of English, Communication Arts and Literature, St. Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, Minnesota,
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Despite the potential to promote critical literacy formation, academic engagement and social justice education, maker activities and maker spaces do not always support or engage historically marginalized communities. This paper chronicles a response to this problem by examining a study created to support equitable engagement with youth in an after-school workshop series over 8-weeks that focused on Hip Hop cultural practices and the simultaneous development of critical literacy and social justice perspectives. The series, open to community youth was located in the makerspace of the local public library. Within this study, project designers drew from Gutierrez and Rogoff’s concept of “repertoires of practice” and focused particularly on questions of what counts as making, and who has agency to make these decisions and how engagement with hip hop culture mediates these understandings.

I consider two instances where students engaged in Hip Hop- centered generative practices (particularly beat making and graffiti writing) and analyze moments of student resistance and agency as opportunities to expand understandings of development of critical media literacy and social justice orientation. This paper foregrounds the importance of iterative analysis and design as participants develop artistic, social, and political identities over the course of the workshop. Finally, this paper explores implications for classroom learning that emerged from the work, including expression, exploration, and collaboration.

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