Simi Kang

Artistic Rising: Climate in Crisis
Type of work
Interdisciplinary Artist

Simi Kang is a mixed Sikh American community advocate, educator, artist, and scholar. Their work centers Asian American collaborative resistance as a site for imagining environmentally and economically just futures in Southeast Louisiana. In collaboration with a Vietnamese and Cambodian American commercial fisherfolk-serving non-profit, Kang’s community engagement and writing practices reject the imperative for structurally underserved communities to be resilient to extraction, environmental racism, and the violence of the US immigration system. Kang is currently a Monroe Fellow at Tulane University’s New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and works as an Assistant Professor in the Gender Studies Department at the University of Victoria, BC.

While in residence, Simi will work on Mapping Shrimping Futures. Mapping Shrimping Futures directly addresses the severity of multiple and layered climate crises in southeast Louisiana and asks its cost-dependent residents what futures they would most like to see. As a scholar who has worked with Southeast Louisiana’s Vietnamese and Cambodian American commercial shrimpers for over six years, I want to shift the focus of state restoration efforts from conversations about industry to ones about the region’s people and ecosystems. Mapping Shrimping Futures engages community-based organizations and fishing families to create audio and physical story maps (or physical maps paired with the stories they contain). The function of these story maps is three-fold: to highlight, first, how much a map’s author influences what is contained therein. Second, by centering the spatial and communal knowledge of Southeast Asian American shrimpers, this project will intervene in extractive storytelling that refuses shrimpers’ expertise. Finally, by putting expertise of place back in the hands of one of the communities that rely on coastal southeast Louisiana, the project will act to re-emplace stories and experiences that are kept out of official maps about climate change, water and land health, and population density. Mapping Shrimping Futures will be used in community conversations about restoration in the short-term and, over time, will seed a larger archive of shrimpers’ response to current restoration efforts.