Kenji Yoshino: What do you do?

Question: What do you do?

Kenji Yoshino: Well that’s another great question. I actually think of myself primarily as a political intellectual. So I think a lot of what drove me into legal academia was . . . rather than another kind of academia was the idea that I wanted to do something that was politically engaged with the world. So my first love was literature. I was an English major as an undergraduate. I still teach law and literature classes. I do actually think that literature has a lot to tell us about civil rights; but at the same time I was very politically active. And many, many humanists who go to law school have this story, so it need not detain us long. But my thought was if I actually care about these causes, I can probably do more for them than to write papers on the Renaissance about them. And so when I went to law school and I thought really maybe I should go into practice. But once I delved into the practical . . . or the world of practice I should say, I quickly realized that part of what was really important to me was the ideas and the intellectual enterprise. And so I split the difference by becoming a legal academic who’s very engaged in politics and in activism – particularly gay rights activism, but civil rights activism more broadly – who nonetheless I hope is trying to generate some new ideas about how this kind of activism should proceed.

Recorded on: 11/11/07

Yoshino is a political intellectual.

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