Mimi Thi Nguyen

Associate Professor
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Biography

Mimi Thi Nguyen is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her first book, called The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages, focuses on the promise of “giving” freedom concurrent and contingent with waging war (Duke University Press, 2012; Outstanding Book Award in Cultural Studies from the Association of Asian American Studies, 2014). She is also co-editor with Fiona I.B. Ngo and Mariam Lam of a special issue of positionson Southeast Asian American Studies (20:3, Winter 2012), and co-editor with Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu of Alien Encounters: Pop Culture in Asian America (Duke University Press, 2007). Her papers have been solicited for the Feminist Theory Archive at Brown University. 

Her following project is called The Promise of Beauty. She has also published in SignsCamera ObscuraWomen & Performancepositions, and Radical History Review. Nguyen was named a Conrad Humanities Scholar in 2013, a designation supporting the work of outstanding associate professors in the humanities within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois. She was named a John and Grace A. Nicholson Scholar in 2017, a designation supporting excellence in philosophical inquiry, also at the University of Illinois. 

Nguyen has made zines since 1991, includingSlander (formerly known by other titles) and the compilation zine Race Riot. She is a former Punk Planet columnist and Maximumrocknroll  volunteer. She is also co-author of the retired research blog on dress and beauty threadbared. In June 2013, Sarah McCarry's Guillotine ("a series of erratically published chapbooks focused on revolutionary non-fiction") released PUNK, a conversation between Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour. She toured with other zine makers of color in 2012 and 2013, and continues to organize events and shows with and for POC punks.

Research Interests

  • transnational feminist cultural studies
  • critical refugee studies
  • women of color feminisms
  • aesthetics

Education

  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Ethnic Studies, Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality
  • M.A., New York University, American Studies
  • B.A. University of California, Berkeley, Women's Studies

Distinctions / Awards

  • Nicholson Professorial Scholars Award 2017-2020
  • Winner of the 2014 Book Award in Cultural Studies from the Association for Asian American Studies
  • Conrad Humanities Professorial Scholars Award 2013-2018

Courses

  • AAS 211 Asian Americans and the Arts
  • GWS 275 The Politics of Fashion
  • AAS 315 War, Memory, Cinema
  • GWS 350 Feminist Theory
  • GWS 355 Beauty and Culture
  • GWS 550 Feminist Theories and Methods
  • GWS 575 Transnational Feminisms

Selected Publications

Books

Photo of publication
Nguyen, Mimi Thi The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages Durham, NC Duke University Press 2012.

Edited Books

Nguyen, Mimi Thi, and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America Durham, NC Duke University Press 2007.

Book Contributions

It’s (Not) a White World: Looking for Race in Punk White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race It’s (Not) a White World: Looking for Race in Punk London Verso 2011.
Nguyen, Mimi Thi Bruce Lee I Love You: Discourses of Race and Masculinity in the Queer Superstardom of JJ Chinois Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America edited by Mimi Nguyen, edited by Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu. Bruce Lee I Love You: Discourses of Race and Masculinity in the Queer Superstardom of JJ Chinois Edited by Mimi Nguyen, Edited by Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu, Durham, NC Duke University Press 2007, p. 271-304.
Nguyen, Mimi Thoughts on Afropunk Youth Subcultures: Exploring Underground America Thoughts on Afropunk New York Longman 2006.
'In the arms of Pirates, Under the bodies of Sailors:' Diaspora, Desire, and Danger in Nguyen Tan Hoang's PIRATED! Charlie Don't Surf: Four Vietnamese American Artists 'In the arms of Pirates, Under the bodies of Sailors:' Diaspora, Desire, and Danger in Nguyen Tan Hoang's PIRATED! Vancouver Centre A 2005, p. 66-75.
Nguyen, Mimi Thi "Vietnam: Journal/Journey" An Introduction to Women's Studies: Gender in a Transnational World, Second Edition edited by Inderpal Grewal, compiled by Caren Kaplan. "Vietnam: Journal/Journey" Edited by Inderpal Grewal, Compiled by Caren Kaplan, New York McGraw-Hill 2005, p. 435-439.
Nguyen, Mimi Queer Cyborgs and New Mutants: Race, Sexuality and Prosthetic Sociality in Digital Space AsianAmerica.net edited by Rachel Lee, edited by Sau-Ling Wong. Queer Cyborgs and New Mutants: Race, Sexuality and Prosthetic Sociality in Digital Space Edited by Rachel Lee, Edited by Sau-Ling Wong, New York Routledge Press 2003, p. 281-305.
Nguyen, Mimi Asiatic Geekgirl Agitprop from Paper to Pixels Technicolor: Race, Technology and Everyday Life edited by Thuy Linh Tu, edited by Alondra Nelson. Asiatic Geekgirl Agitprop from Paper to Pixels Edited by Thuy Linh Tu, Edited by Alondra Nelson, New York New York University Press 2001, p. 177-190.
Nguyen, Mimi Thi Afterward Punkademics: The Basement Show in the Ivory Tower edited by Zack Furness. Afterward Edited by Zack Furness, New York Minor Compositions/Autonomedia 2012.
"Profiling Surfaces" The Funambulist Papers, Vol. 2 "Profiling Surfaces" New York Punctum Books 2015, p. 8-13.

Special Issues of a Journal

Ngo, Fiona I.B, Mimi Thi Nguyen, and Mariam B. Lam "Guest Editors' Introduction" "Southeast Asian American Studies" positions: east asian cultures critique 20 3 2012, p. 671-684.
Nguyen, Mimi Thi Operation Homecoming: Memory, History, and the Production of the Vietnamese Refugee in U.S. National and Diasporic Imaginaries Topographies of Race and Gender: Mapping Cultural Representations, Part 2 Annals of Scholarship 18 2-3 2009, p. 115-149.

Journal Articles

Nguyen, Mimi Thi The Diasporic Erotic: Love, Loss, and the Copy Camera Obscura 28 1 2013, p. 68-101.
Nguyen, Mimi Thi Race, Riot Grrrl, and Revival Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory 22 2-3 2012, p. 173-196.
Nguyen, Mimi Thi The Biopower of Beauty: Humanitarian Imperialisms and Global Feminisms in the War on Terror Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 26 2 2011, p. 359-383.
The Hoodie as Sign, Screen, Expectation, and Force Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 40 4 2015, p. 791-816.
Minor Threats Radical History Review 122 2015, p. 11-24.
Nguyen, Mimi Thi, and Soo Ah Kwon Non-Profits, NGOs, and ‘Community Engagement:’ Refiguring the Project of ‘Activism’ in Gender and Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies Scholar & Feminist 13 2 2016.

Magazine Articles

Dressed Down: The Politics of Hijab ARTFORUM 2017, p. 290-293.

Website Articles

The Right to Be Beautiful The Account 2016.

In The News

  • Professor Nguyen talks about art, punk, and politics.  Art Now is an award-winning mini-documentary series that has produced over 80 episodes on local artists working in Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding areas since July 2010.