I am a UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Davis. I received my Doctorate from the Earth and Environmental Sciences Program at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), with fellowship assistance from the CUNY Advanced Research Collaborative, the Center for Place, Culture and Politics, and the CUNY Graduate Center Digital Initiatives. My research interests include political geography, environmental justice, critical race and ethnic studies, urban planning, and political economy. My work as a public scholar engages the racial environmental state as a contradictory source of both foreclosure and possibility in relation to antiracist struggles for social and environmental justice.
From 2013 to 2016, I served as a GC Digital Fellow, working on various digital projects, workshops, and research collaborations supporting digital research initiatives and the digital humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Prior to that, I spent two years serving as a joint assistant for the Center for Place, Culture and Politics, the Committee on Globalization and Social Change, the Committee for the Study of Religion, and the Committee for Interdisciplinary Science Studies, at the Graduate Center, CUNY.
I have taught the undergraduate courses Introduction to Geography at Lehman College and Asians in the Americas (Intro to Asian American Studies) at Hunter College. I was also a collaborator on two separate National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded summer institutes: a K-12 educator program titled “Asian Americans in New York: Film and Literature,” and a CUNY-centered institute titled “Building Asian American Studies across the Community College Classroom.”
Prior to my graduate study, I worked as an environmental engineer, designing and monitoring systems used in the cleanup of soil and groundwater pollutants, and writing environmental reports on contaminated 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.
My research and writing focus on racial capitalism, environmental justice, environmental law and policy, political economy, and the state. I am also interested in digital research methods, the Digital Humanities, and critical approaches to and applications of Geographical Information Science (GIS).
In my recently completed dissertation, titled “Institutionalizing Environmental Justice: Race, Place, and the National Environmental Policy Act,” I examine ways that the US National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and its primary enforcement mechanism, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, have reshaped the state as a site for racial and environmental conflict by institutionalizing a particular form of environmental justice within governmental decision making processes. Combining archival methods and legal analysis, I develop three case studies involving community struggles over the social production of space that each engage the EIA process to different effect. My analysis of these case studies centers around the concept of the racial environmental state in order to explain how the EIA process functions to simultaneously and interdependently maintain both racial capitalism and uneven productions of nature, while also laying institutionalized pathways for challenging and reshaping the state as a site of racial and environmental conflict. My case studies thus highlight the capacities and limitations of this particular state formation for social and environmental justice organizing. Through my case studies, I go on to detail ways that the NEPA legislation and the EIA process have institutionalized a specific type of environmental justice that renders racialized space and difference legible and governable within the purview of the contemporary capitalist state vis-à-vis environmental knowledge. My analyses reveal complex ways in which people rework racial and environmental meanings through their engagement with environmental policy, and in so doing, counterpose race and environment as articulated modes of resistance to the racist capitalist state.
My second project builds on the foundation laid in my dissertation by addressing the rapid growth in state capacity around climate change. I seek to address discrepancies between discourses of climate justice on the one hand, and ecologically and economically sustainable development on the other. “Sustainable” growth is predicated on the assumption of capital’s continuing ability to produce surplus value, which history informs us is predicated on rendering racially differentiated populations as surplus, disposable, or incarcerable. Climate justice places social and environmental justice at the forefront of its strategies, with the undoing of racial capitalism being fundamental to addressing climate change. The rift between these discourses of sustainable capitalist growth and radical climate justice emblematize the contradictions inherent to various understandings of “sustainability,” and the disconnects in theory, policy, and praxis that frame this project. I ask how social and environmental justice organizations have responded to shifts in infrastructure and policy through their engagements with both sustainability and climate justice discourses in their organizing, campaigning, and fundraising activities. Furthermore, I am particularly interested in the ways that recent shifts in racial justice organizing discourses that reinforce the social and political ethics of valuing Black and Brown lives intersects with environmental and climate justice activism that ontologically centers the notion of justice around populations rendered as vulnerable and disposable by the racial state.
I have presented my work at various conferences and invited talks, and am in the process of preparing portions of my dissertation for publication. 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, the American Studies Association, and the Critical Ethnic Studies Association.
Additionally, I am the lead author, along with Juliana Maantay, Andrew Maroko, and Kristin Grady at Lehman College, on a peer-reviewed journal article that looks at the environmental health justice implications of the spatial distribution of parks with regard to pedestrian accessibility across New York City. 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.
Intro to GIS
Demonstration materials for a course on the theory and praxis of Geographical Information Science, with a particular emphasis on environmental data and analysis.
Intro to Geography
A survey course covering the major fields of physical and human geography.
Asians in the U.S.
An introductory course in Asian American Studies, told through the lens of race, space, and place.