Kevin Lujan Lee

Kevin Lujan Lee (familian Capili, taotao Barrigada) is a Chamoru PhD candidate in urban planning and sociology. Drawing from tools in planning, sociology and political economy, he is broadly interested in state-society relations in comparative perspective, and empirically studies the institutional and organizational processes shaping the capacity of low-wage workers to transform their workplaces and communities. He is particularly interested in the dynamic relationship between these processes and the global processes of migration management, racial capitalism, and 21st-century neocolonialism.

In alignment with the economic justice movement, he studies the diverse experimental roles that worker centers play in labor market regulation in the continental United States. Much research on worker centers have focused on their role as "alt-labor" actors using community organizing and policy advocacy strategies to organize working-class communities, co-enforce labor laws, raise labor standards in low-wage industries and pass progressive policies at multiple jurisdictional scales. However, researchers have not focused on the myriad other strategies that worker centers use to advance economic justice––such as human service provision, workforce development, microentrepreneurship (through establishing worker co-operatives) etc. In collaboration with colleagues at the UCLA Labor Center, he is currently examining how the role of service provision both strengthens and extends the influence that worker centers wield over low-wage labor markets. 

In alignment with the global LANDBACK movement, he studies the politics of decolonization across the Pacific Islands. In collaboration with Ngoc Phan, a political scientist at Hawai'i Pacific University, he uses Indigenous and participatory action methods to co-design, disseminate and analyze large-N surveys of Indigenous Pacific Islanders across Oceania. Most recently, this includes the 2021 Guåhan Survey - the largest-scale community baseline survey of Chamorus in Guam (with more than 1,100 respondents), asking questions about what they care about and what they want for their futures. In collaboration with Josh Campbell, a political theorist at UCLA, he uses historical and discursive methods to study Indigenous Pacific Islander political thought, and to elevate their lessons for political theory and planning practice. 

He is also a member of the Scholars Strategy Network, Student Research Affiliate with MIT CoLab, and actively collaborates with community-based organizations in both LA and across Oceania (especially in Guåhan and Hawai'i). Past and current collaborators include the UCLA Labor Center, California Immigrant Policy Center and Faith Action Hawai'i. Prior to MIT, Kevin worked as a food policy advocate, an undocumented youth organizer, a program assistant at a local mosque––among others.

Kevin holds a B.A. in Philosophy and the Study of Religion from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an interdisciplinary M.A. from the University of Chicago. 

Areas of Interest
Economic Development, Globalization, History and Theory of Planning, Social Equity