ASA Lecture Series | Race and Class in the Air: Asian and Latina Immigrants on How Racism and Economic Injustice Shape Pollution

Nadia Kim
Apr 22, 2024, 4:30 pm6:30 pm


Event Description

In our global cities today, immigrants of color are increasingly suffering hyper-pollution and alarming rates of asthma and cancer due to their residence near diesel-spewing shipping ports, freeways, and rail yards, all so that consumers can buy goods at big box stores that hail from China and other far-flung manufacturing nations. Immigrants and other people of color also reside near hazardous industries like oil refineries that prop up the aforementioned goods movement apparatus. Indeed, Americans are consuming so much that, for years, there have been supply chain log jams that endanger and pollute (immigrant) neighborhoods of color even more than before. Over the last three decades, immigrant-led resistance movements against these environmental hazards have grown to be among the most dynamic in our global cities, yet we know little about them. In this vein, in her recent book Refusing Death, Kim chronicles how Asian and Latina immigrant women activists for environmental justice in Los Angeles—namely for cleaner, more breathable air—redefine racism and classism, and place one over the other, as a result of their struggles with environmental hyper-contamination, and their specific social locations as immigrant women and mothers of color under neoliberal capitalism and white American supremacy.

Nadia Kim is Claudius M. Easley Jr Faculty Fellow-Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on US race and citizenship hierarchies concerning Korean/Asian Americans and South Koreans, race and nativist racism in Los Angeles (e.g., 1992 LA Unrest), environmental (in)justice, immigrant women, and comparative racialization of Latinxs, Asian Americans, and Black Americans, and race theory. Throughout her work, Kim’s approach centers (neo)imperialism, transnationality, and the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and citizenship.

In addition to numerous articles, Dr. Kim has written two multi-award-winning books, the most recent of which is Refusing Death: Immigrant Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice in LA (Stanford University Press), which examines Asian and Latina immigrant women's movements for clean air. Imperial Citizens: Koreans and Race from Seoul to LA (Stanford, 2008), is an exploration of how immigrants navigate American imperial racism. Her book co-edited with Dr. Pawan Dhingra, Disciplinary Futures: Sociology in Conversation with American, Ethnic, and Indigenous Studies, addresses how sociology (and other social sciences) benefit from engaging with critical ethnic studies. Kim has long intersected her scholarship with her social justice work, organizing on such issues as affirmative action, immigration, feminism, and environmental justice.