Refusing Death (second book, award-winning)

Refusing Death: Immigrant Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice in LA (June 1, 2021, Stanford University Press)

The industrial-port belt of Los Angeles is home to 11 of the top 20 oil refineries in California, the largest ports in the country, and those “racist monuments” we call freeways. In this uncelebrated corner of “La La Land” through which most goods transit, pollution is literally killing the residents. In response, a grassroots movement for environmental justice has grown, predominated by Asian and undocumented Latin@ immigrant women who are transforming our political landscape—yet, we know very little about these change makers. In Refusing Death, Nadia Kim tells their stories, finding that the women are impactful because of their ability to remap politics, community, and citizenship in the face of the country’s nativist racism and system of class injustice, defined not just by disproportionate environmental pollution, but by neglected schools, surveillance and deportation, and political marginalization. The women are highly conscious of how these harms are an assault on their bodies and emotions. Because they get ill and die at the hands of hazard-spewing ports, freeways, train yards, and refineries, the activists have to rely on a state they prefer to avoid and ignore. In spite of such challenges and contradictions with the state, however, they have developed creative, unconventional, and loving ways to support and protect one another. By centering bodily and emotional injustices, they challenge the state’s betrayal, demand respect, and, ultimately, refuse death.

“Immigrant environmental justice movements are at the leading edge of social change in global cities, and yet they are frequently overlooked. Nadia Kim delivers a major intervention for reassessing the impacts of these movements, extending our vision with a keen ethnographic eye, a compelling narrative, and robust theoretical analyses.”

—David Naguib Pellow, author of What is Critical Environmental Justice?

“An urgent, much-needed account of the activism of Filipin@ and Latin@ immigrant activists in Los Angeles. Spotlighting gendered resistance and community citizenmaking, Kim effectively recasts environmental justice to mean commitment to care for both physical and emotional lives.”

—Yen Lê Espiritu, University of California, San Diego

“An innovative and close-up look at the ways in which Latin@ and Filipin@ activists mobilize bodies, emotions, and gendered caregiving in their struggle for environmental justice.”

—Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, University of Southern California


2023        Distinguished Scholarship Award, The Pacific Sociological Association

2023        Outstanding Achievement in the Social Sciences Book Award, Association of Asian American Studies, Social Science Category

2022        Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship, Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, Texas A&M University

2022        Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award, Section on Race, Class, Gender, American Sociological Association

2022        Outstanding Book Award, Section on Asia and Asian America, American Sociological Association

2022        Honorable Mention, Outstanding Recent Contribution Book Award, Section on the Sociology of Emotions, American Sociological Association

2022        Honorable Mention, Distinguished Contribution to Research Book Award, Section on Latina/o/x Sociology, American Sociological Association

2022        Silver Award, Nautilus Book Awards, “Social Change and Social Justice Category”

PURCHASE with DISCOUNT CODE: REFUSING20 HERE Refusing Death: Immigrant Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice in LA | Nadia Y. Kim (