is a Doctoral Candidate in Geography at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). He is currently writing his dissertation and working for the Graduate Center Digital Fellows Program.
I am a doctoral candidate in the Geography track of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Program at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), whose specializations include political geography, environmental justice, ethnic studies, urban planning, and political economy. My work as a public scholar engages the contradictions of environmental governance in relation to antiracist struggles for social and environmental justice.
My dissertation examines race and environment as mutually constitutive systems of knowledge and spatialized governance within the modern state, focusing on the U.S. since the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. In addition to completing the dissertation, I am a GC Digital Fellow, working on projects that promote digital initiatives and the digital humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY.
Prior to my graduate study, I worked as an environmental engineer, designing and monitoring systems used in the cleanup of soil and groundwater pollutants at sites throughout Southern California. This experience exposed me to the inner workings of environmental policy administration as well as the ways in which language and knowledge are used as tools of both domination and resistance within these spheres.
I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College, in Claremont, CA. During my undergraduate education, I was heavily involved with the Claremont Colleges Asian American studies program and worked to create an Asian Pacific Islander mentoring program at Harvey Mudd. This work heavily influenced my ongoing involvement in social justice activism related to labor, transportation, immigration, and the environment.
I was born and raised in, and remain deeply committed to, Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley.
Broadly conceived, my research focuses on racial capitalism, the state, environmental justice, communities of color, and U.S. Empire, through the lens of race, space, and place.
My dissertation, titled “Institutionalizing Environmental Justice: A Geographical History of Environmental Impact Assessment,” examines race and environment as mutually constitutive systems of knowledge and governance within the modern state, from the passage of the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act in 1969 (NEPA) to the present. Using archival methods and oral history, I weave a geographical, public policy, planning, and legal history of NEPA through case studies involving social justice campaigns that engage the primary governance mechanism embedded in NEPA, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. I argue that the dynamic EIA process consolidates, legitimizes, and structures state involvement and public participation in environmental governance and the racialized production of space. Race and environment become mutually constitutive and contested concepts under NEPA, precipitating a capacious platform for stretching the ways in which space is racialized, understood, and produced, by both state and non-state actors.
At the 2013 Association for Asian American Studies Annual Meeting, I presented a working paper that highlights some of the research and theoretical frameworks going into my dissertation. A copy of this working paper can be viewed here. Other aspects of this research have been presented at conferences for the Association of American Geographers and the Critical Ethnic Studies Association.
In conjunction with one of my dissertation case studies, I am developing a short piece for publication that uses a prison abolitionist framework to relate professional planning practice, particularly in the areas of environmental and health planning, to a structural analysis of carcerality, criminalization, and community development.
Along with Juliana Maantay, Andrew Maroko, and Kristin Grady at Lehman College, I worked on a Geographic Information Science (GIS) based project that studied the relationship between park distributions and the sociodemographic distributions of New York City’s population. The peer-reviewed journal article resulting from this research looks at the environmental health justice implications of the spatial distribution of parks with regard to pedestrian accessibility. It also discusses methodological ramifications of employing GIS and mixed-methods for this type of research.
I see my role in the classroom as an inseparable extension of my scholar-activist work around issues of social justice. My approach to education as liberatory practice emphasizes content-area knowledge, theoretical engagement, individuals’ experiences, communicating ideas, and diverse applications of knowledge. I see these as the pillars supporting students in understanding, imagining, and making the world they want to see. To this end, I am constantly working to develop and incorporate different pedagogical methods to scaffold these pillars of knowledge in meaningful and engaging ways. In practice this translates to things such as rigorous reading, in-class presentations, small-group discussions and writing activities, interactive web-based reading responses, ad-hoc research exercises, peer feedback, collaborative writing, informal short-form writing assignments, and engagement with individuals and organizations beyond the classroom.
As a geographer, one of my preoccupations is to engage the literal translation of the term geographia, or the writing of the world, both in terms of producing descriptive understandings of the world, and the active practice of inscribing the world I want to see. As a teacher of geography, then, I see my responsibility as helping students develop the tools to better understand the world in terms of the spatial aspects of its social metabolisms. That is, the ways in which people unevenly relate to each other and to their environments through spatialized practices of production and consumption, domination and resistance.