Research Focus Group Talk: The Asian/American Studies Collective Winter Speakers Series

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Simi Kang

January 12, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


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Asian/American Studies Collective RFG

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The Asian/American Studies Collective is excited to announce our winter speakers series, which features an exciting lineup of scholars from across the UCSB campus. For each talk, an invited speaker will share their current research during the first hour and the second hour will be explicitly dedicated to creating space to allow graduate students to ask questions related to research and professionalization.

Our first speaker is Dr. Simi Kang, a queer, mixed Sikh American community advocate, educator, artist, and scholar. Kang’s work centers Southeast Asian American collaborative resistance to imagine environmentally and economically just futures in Louisiana. Kang is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in UCSB’s Department of Asian American Studies.

Abstract: Every year, multiple times a year, Southeast Louisiana’s coast-dependent communities must make the impossible decision to remain in an environmental sacrifice zone or leave home with no resources. This is particularly true for Vietnamese American and other BIPOC coast-dependent communities, whose livelihoods are tied to place and whose lives are targeted by environmental extraction. In light of worsening storm seasons and rampant land loss, my collaborators are called “disaster refugees” or “climate migrants” even before they are forced from home. Although the terms identify ‘natural’ processes as the problem, the Vietnamese American fisherfolk I work with know better: the oil leases, the refineries, the dead zones make the land slide into the ocean and the storms rage, not the ‘environment.’ This talk considers how the term “climate migrant” functions in environmental policy and politics, ultimately asking how we can more clearly articulate undesirable movements from home as the result of environmental sacrifice.

Cosponsored by the IHC’s Asian/American Studies Collective Research Focus Group and the Department of Asian American Studies

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