Professor Umemoto’s research centers on issues of democracy and social justice in multicultural societies with a focus on US cities. She also examines and pursues planning processes that include a diverse array of voices, acknowledges different ways of knowing, and allows for meaningful deliberations. She is equally concerned about the structural, procedural and relational obstacles to attaining a just and democratic society. Her research and practice thus takes a broad view of planning in the context of social inclusion, participatory democracy and political transformation.
Her recent work has focused on the problem of overrepresentation of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander youth in the Hawai‘i juvenile justice system. Professor Umemoto’s co-authored award-winning book entitled, Jacked up and unjust: Pacific Islander teens confront violent legacies, features youths’ narratives in an ethnographic study of youth violence in Hawai’i examined within the historic role of colonization and racial domination in the US. It critiques the punitive turn in juvenile justice and disciplinary policies and offers alternative approaches that focus on healing and restorative practices. She has also worked on juvenile justice reform initiatives as a researcher, evaluator, planner, and advocate.
Prof. Umemoto’s current work focuses on the ways that planning can be seen and practiced as a transformative tool to facilitate collaborative and inclusive processes of social change. She is also conducting research on the history of urban renewal in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.
- Editorial Board, Journal of the American Planning Association, 2010-present
- Editorial Board, Journal of Planning Education and Research, 2010-present
- Editorial Advisor, Journal of Indigenous Social Development, 2010-present
- Editorial Board, Planning Theory, 2005-present
- Editorial Board, AAPI Nexus: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Policy, Practice and Community, 2002-present