Tomi is an ethnic studies scholar and sociologist who is curious about her cultural and built environment. In her interdisciplinary honors thesis project, she is studying the politics of youth identity formation, the ethnic suburb, and spatial racial formation. Her broader intellectual passions include: cooperative business administration, sustainable economic development, system-impacted trans youth of color leadership development, and the nationalist and anti- imperialist politics of the Global South. In her free time, she likes reading critical theory, laying in bed with her elderly cat, scrolling through Twitter, and going on walks without a set destination.
Tomi's Research: “Ethnoburb” is a term coined by geographer Wei Li to describe an settlement phenomenon propagating across the United States and abroad, where ethnic placemakers are moving into suburbs and making a cultural impact onto the built landscape, creating a new sociospatial form distinct from the traditional white suburb and the inner city ethnic enclave or ghetto. In contrast to other spatial forms where placemaking is dominated by white residents and white political frameworks, ethnoburbs are home to ethnic residents who have the ability to exercise political agency to shape their suburban landscapes, transforming them into multicultural, often transnational hubs. As with all contestations over space, different racialized, political forms of inclusion and exclusion occur in these environments. This project will investigate several ethnoburban sites across the United States to identify how Asian youth make meaning and negotiate their identities as they navigate or leave the ethnoburb, how they view and reconcile with placemaking politics embedded into the ethnoburb, and how sites of political struggle within the ethnoburb could facilitate identity formation.
Major(s): Ethnic Studies, Sociology