Dr. Eric Tang: Empowering Underserved Austin Residents
Dr. Eric Tang was first appointed a faculty fellow with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement in 2008 as a visiting professor in African and African American Studies and the Center for Asian American Studies. Since then, he has established the Social Justice Institute at the DDCE’s Community Engagement Center. As director of the institute, Tang oversees projects that engage typically underserved populations in the Austin area.
Tang was instrumental in putting together a key panel as part of the 2013 Heman Marion Sweatt Symposium, “The Future of Black Life in Austin,” drawing on research he has conducted related to displaced African American communities in East Austin. This research project, entitled “East Avenue” is a collaboration between the Social Justice Institute, the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and several community-based groups.
A New York native with more than a decade of community organizing experience, Tang is a natural fit for his role at the Social Justice Institute which has collaborated with Grassroots Leadership, Refugio: Community Organizing trainings, the Workers Defense Project and Red Salmon Arts among others.
“My work looks at the poetics of displacement — from third-world refugees to the African American communities throughout Austin,” Tang said in an interview with the American Studies department. “Why poetics? Because the violence of displacement necessarily produces among the displaced a specific way of knowing the world — a theory and a form. Some scholars refer to this as a methodology of the oppressed. My goal as a scholar is to ensure that contemporary society does not squander their vision/theory/method.”