Justice Work In and Out of Justice Itself


  • Debbie Sonu Hunter College, City University of New York


This is my origin story. It is interwoven with three stories of justice untold, even disavowed. In an attempt to decenter the central narrative of justice as political action, I shine light on the everyday, often unnoticed moments in which justice appears. Both ordinarily mundane and extraordinary in their own right, these stories may seem familiar, even common, but to the high school youth who tell them, they are fierce acts of their own. They are about justice work that occurs, in a literal sense, in and out of schools, but also about justice work on existential and subjective levels of intimate experience. They ask us to consider the fragility of moral universals and how justice may require one to completely ignore justice in order to do justice, to step out of justice and just work.

Author Biography

Debbie Sonu, Hunter College, City University of New York

Debbie Sonu is an Assistant Professor of Social Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York. Her research interests include youth culture, curriculum studies, and issues related to institutional justice and moral practices in urban schools. Her recent work examines the conceptions of peace and violence among young children and how urban students understand indigenous populations, past and present. She was recently invited to contribute a chapter entitled the "Youth Cultural Milieu" in the forthcoming Guide to Curriculum in Education to be published by Sage.