You Can't Evict A Movement: Housing Justice and Intergenerational Activism in New York City
The rate in which working-class residents, immigrants, and communities of color are being displaced from their homes is happening on a scale not seen since the federally sponsored urban renewal programs in the 1960s. In New York City, where one out of ten tenants are taken to housing court each year by their landlords, displacement has come to shape the political lives of working-class immigrant communities. You Can’t Evict A Movement examines the democratic implications of displacement by focusing on how residents in Manhattan’s Chinatown are politically responding to evictions, landlord harassment, cultural erasure, and other forms of dispossession in their daily lives. By bringing together disparate literature on American politics, Asian American studies, urban governance, race and ethnic politics, and critical geography, the book offers a nuanced understanding of the conditions under which Asian women, youth, elders, and immigrants are active in the making of urban space and politics, shifting away from a common narrative that portrays them as disengaged from democratic processes. The book makes key epistemological and methodological interventions in how we conceptualize American politics and where it unfolds on the ground, importantly shaping how scholars, organizers, and practitioners understand the relationship between immigrant communities, democratic citizenship, and political possibilities.
Asian America Rising: Movement Visions and New Directions for the 21st Century (with Mark Tseng-Putterman)
What are the uses and limits of Asian American identity in the context of an increasingly diverse Asian American community? How do we conceptualize Asian American politics beyond demographics but as political practice that is rooted in personal and societal transformation This co-edited book project explores the political developments and contours of Asian American activism in the twenty first century and probes deeper practical and theoretical questions about the complexities and pluralities of the Asian American political experience. This book attempts to bridge scholarship in political science, Asian American studies, and cultural studies and builds on two strands of existing scholarship on Asian American politics: (1) studies of Asian American social movements that are primarily historical and focus on the “long sixties,” and (2) political science approaches to Asian American communities in the 1980s and beyond which have focused on electoral politics and demographic trends. This book project is meant to be accessible to a large audience including students, academic researchers, community organizers, and practitioners, and include a multiplicity of Asian American activist voices and locate contemporary expressions of Asian American politics by those who are most directly active on the frontlines.
Current Research Projects
Special Issue: Asian American Abolition Feminisms (with Rachel Kuo)
Our interdisciplinary special issue of Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies invites contributions of scholarly, creative, movement, and visual works that speak to the historical, theoretical, methodological, experimental, and pedagogical possibilities of Asian American Abolition Feminisms. The transnational legacies of Asian and Asian American feminist movement-building and solidarities with Black liberation and Third World movements has always sought to theorize and practice radical possibilities as alternatives to empire, militarism, capitalism, and state violence. Asian American abolition feminism calls for us to move beyond the individual recognition of difference towards collective membership in political struggle against multiple state violences. We invite submissions from scholars, activists and organizers, cultural workers, archivists, and artists, with different orientations to abolitionist feminist politics that center visions of community care, safety, healing, wellbeing, wholeness, and liberation. We locate our collaborative work as rupture to contemporary responses to anti-Asian violence that have expanded the carceral system through the proliferation of hate crimes legislation and reliance on law enforcement. This special issue also responds to the harms caused by carceral feminisms, such as the uses of police and prison responses to sexual and gendered violence which have contributed to expansions of mass incarceration and other forms of state violence. Abolition feminisms draw our attention to addressing slower, everyday forms of violence: read the full CFP on Frontiers website.
We Keep Us Safe: Asian American Visions and Encounters For Police Free Futures
Asian Americans are changing the American urban landscape and material issues at stake in the 21st century, this is particularly true when it comes to police, prisons, and abolition. Today refugees of the Vietnam War face detention and deportation under resurgent nativist policies; a conservative Chinese American faction has emerged in vocal opposition to police abolition; a growing number of Southeast Asians are incarcerated as a byproduct of the convergence between immigration policy and the criminal justice system. In the face of cyclical violence, we have also seen Asian Americans build in solidarity with the Movement for Black lives to defund the police, migrant sex workers victimized by police violence speak out in support of one another, formations of new collectives like #Asians4BlackLives to disinvest from carceral violence. It is in this context of urban policing and radical mobilization that this research centers these questions: How do encounters with the police shape Asian American perceptions of local governance and democratic citizenship? How are Asian Americans holding conversations about police within the immediacy of their own communities? When it comes to extant data on policing, Asian Americans are often categorized as “other” which masks a long history of Asian American entanglement and involvement in the police state that demands deeper scholarly interrogation. Drawing from ethnographic research and interviews conducted with activists and organizers from Madison, Wisconsin and Queens, New York City, this project reveal the interstitial and grassroots interventions that Asian Americans are using to mobilize resources, make claims to power, and build cross-generational solidarity with Black communities in the fight for police free schools and streets.
The Future Is Ours To Build: Asian American Abolitionist Counterstories for Black Liberation
Since Claire Jean Kim’s theory of racial triangulation was first published two decades ago, we have witnessed a new generation of Asian American activist formations emerge. Despite this timelapse, applications of racial triangulation have focused on intergroup conflict and on the specificities of racial positioning without imagination of alternatives. This project examines the potential of racial resistance to triangulation, an overlooked dimension of Kim’s theory, and charts an emergent area of research that centers Asian American abolitionist counterstories for Black liberation: How have Asian Americans divested from the structures that uphold anti-Blackness – and what does divestment look like in practice? We remain at a crossroads and in need of scholarship that makes legible the political possibilities of cross-racial solidarities and refusals to triangulation. I draw inspiration from the organizing of Freedom Inc., a Black and Southeast Asian grassroots collective working with low-to-no-income communities of color in Madison, Wisconsin. Their transformative work to remove police from schools helps us to conceive of a politics that is not only reactive to existing systems of power but also as fugitive, abundant, and visionary in the sense that they are forging alternate relationalities in the unfinished project of worldmaking post-triangulation.
A/P/A Voices: Covid-19 Public Memory Project
COVID-19 is a public health pandemic that is truly global in scale and intensity. From the anti-Asian violence and xenophobia that has spiked since the early days of the pandemic (and reemerged in the national consciousness) to the ways that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Pacific Islander communities and Asian immigrant workers in the service and healthcare industries, Asian/Pacific Americans are at the center of these conversations too often as objects of anger, sympathy, or curiosity. Recognizing the critical need for documenting this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad of ways it has and will impact Asian/Pacific American communities in New York City and beyond, the A/P/A Voices: A COVID-19 Public Memory Project was developed in collaboration with the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University, as well as with Tomie Arai, Lena Sze, and Vivian Truong. This project collects digital artifacts, artwork, and oral histories to document how the pandemic has impacted the lives of Asian Americans in cities across the country with NYU Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives serving as the collection repository. This documentation is essential not just for our communities’ own process of healing and storytelling, but for all of us to learn from this moment now and into the future. To that end, this project aims to cast a wide net but especially endeavor to include the stories from A/P/A communities that often remain untold.
Archive as Memorial
“Archive as Memorial” is a community-curated exhibition to be organized by Tomie Arai and Diane Wong from the A/P/A Voices: A COVID-19 Public Memory Project. Our community-curated “Archive as Memorial” exhibition is premised on the idea that memory and meaning are built concurrently. How we process and grieve, construct memory, make meaning, and how we take stock now and into the future is central to our efforts. Our work intervenes to document stories within our communities, in our own words, and in our own time. In fall 2022, we plan to activate the archive by showcasing the stories, voices, and artifacts, both digitally and in person, in “Archive as Memorial.” By opening A/P/A Voices to the public, “Archive as Memorial” will create a gathering space for A/P/A communities in NYC to process, heal, memorialize, and dream during a time of immense trauma. Visitors will be asked to imagine the archive as a living memorial and be invited to bring artifacts to donate or to scan. While we are social distancing and working remotely, we will continue to invite narrators and interviewers to contribute to the project through an open call. We also hope to commission narrators, artifact donors, poets, musicians, muralists, and artists to engage with materials in the archive and create new narratives concurrently.