Biography

Nadia Y. Kim is Professor of Sociology at Loyola Marymount University. She attended public schools, graduated magna cum laude at University of California-Santa Barbara (English and Sociology), and received her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor where she was an American Sociological Association Minority Fellow. She was also a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego, a visiting scholar at UCLA’s California Center for Population Research (2011-12), a Thomas Tam Visiting Professor (CUNY Graduate Center & Asian American/Asian Research Institute, 2018-19), and formerly worked at Brandeis University.

Her research focuses on US race and citizenship inequalities regarding Korean/Asian Americans and South Koreans, race and nativist racism in Los Angeles (e.g., 1992 LA Unrest), environmental (in)justice (racism, classism), immigrant women activists’ politics of the body and emotions, comparative racialization of Latinxs, Asian Americans, and Black Americans, and critical race theory. Throughout her work, Kim’s approach centers (neo)imperialism, transnationality, and the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and citizenship.

Dr. Kim’s newest book Refusing Death: Immigrant Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice in LA is forthcoming Spring, 2021 from Stanford University Press. It examines racialized citizenship with respect to the growing social phenomenon of marginalized and unauthorized immigrants – especially women and youth – making political inroads by way of grassroots activism, at times, sidestepping the need for formal political channels. By way of nearly four years of ethnographic observation, in-depth interviews, and documents analysis of Asian and Latin@ environmental justice activism in the industrial-port belt of Los Angeles, she finds that these mostly female immigrant activists view their work as much more than an effort to spare their children’s lungs from the grey plumes of cargo ships and oil refineries; they are also redefining notions of politics, community, and citizenship in the face of America’s nativist racism and its system of class injustice, defined by disproportionate pollution and neglected schools, surveillance/deportation, and political marginalization. By inventively dovetailing all of these dimensions, the women show that they are highly conscious of how environmental and educational harms are an assault on their bodies and emotions; hence, they center embodied and affective strategies to uniquely challenge the neoliberal state’s neglect and betrayal and, ultimately, to refuse death.

Six years after leaving the field, Kim will be reentering to conduct longitudinal research to ascertain the impact of today’s global pandemic on the clean air movement she had studied. This is especially urgent given disproportionate covid-19 contraction and death rates among the mostly working-class, unauthorized Latin@ immigrants whose lungs and overall health had been compromised by environmental racism and classism.

Kim is also author of Imperial Citizens: Koreans and Race from Seoul to LA (Stanford, 2008), an exploration of how immigrants navigate American race inequality and ideology (owing to US power abroad) not just after US arrival but before it, and through transnationally connecting both societies. Imperial Citizens won two American Sociological Association (ASA) awards in 2009: Book of the Year Award from the Asia and Asian America section and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award from the Racial and Ethnic Minorities section. She also won two ASA Early Career Awards (one from each section) in part because of the book and and has won three top awards for single- and co-authored research articles from the American Sociological Association and other academic organizations. She has (co)authored articles in anthologies and volumes of the top academic journals, such as Social Forces, Social Problems, International Migration Review, and The Du Bois Review. She and/or her work have been featured (inter)nationally on National Public Radio, Radio Korea, local TV news and in NYLON Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Boston Globe, The Korea Times, among others.

Kim teaches courses on migration and immigration, ‘race’ and ethnicity, gender and transnationality/globalization, race/gender/class intersectionality, immigrant community politics, feminist theory, and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American history.

Kim grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland and in Los Angeles, has lived in Seoul and Florence, and has traversed the world to see her diasporic family – São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Toronto, Daegu. She is a singer, animal lover/pescatarian, and proud stamp collector, and has long been active in social justice efforts for environmental justice, affirmative action, and justice for immigrants and women of color.