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Mimi Nguyen

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Contact Information

The Department of Gender & Women's Studies
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Associate Professor


Mimi Thi Nguyen is Associate Professor and Chair of Gender and Women's 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). Her second book is The Promise of Beauty, which considers the promise of beauty in times of crisis and catastrophe (Duke University Press, October 2024). She is also a part of an editorical collective for Bangtan Remixed: A Critical BTS Readerwhich considers BTS as a lens through which to make sense of histories of our social, political, and aesthetic present. (Duke University Press, August 2024). 

Nguyen 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). She has published in SignsCamera ObscuraWomen & PerformancepositionsArtforumThe Funambulist, 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. Her papers have been solicited for the Feminist Theory Archive at Brown University. 

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.

Research Interests

Transnational feminist cultural studies
War, empire, and humanitarianism
Women of color feminisms


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

Awards and Honors

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 Taught

GWS/AAS 275 The Politics of Fashion
GWS 350 Feminist Theory
GWS 355 Beauty and Culture
GWS 550 Feminist Theories and Methods
GWS 575 Transnational Feminisms

Intellectual Property

Book Contributions

  • “Foreword.” In Fitting In, Sticking Out: Queer (In)visibilities and the Perils of Inclusion, ed. Scott Branson. Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2022.

  • “Zine.” In Keywords in Comics Studies, edited by Ramzi Fawaz, Shelley Streeby, and Deborah Whaley. New York: NYU Press, 2021.

  • “Experience.” In Keywords in Gender and Sexuality Studies, edited by Aren Aizura, Karma Chavez, Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Mishuana Goeman, Amber Musser, Shona Jackson, and Aimee Bahng. New York: NYU Press, 2021. 85-88.

  • “Our Students Are Radical Because They Live in the Real World.” In Teaching Resistance: Radicals in the Classroom, edited by John Mink. San Francisco: PM Press, 2019. 185-189.

  • “Minor Threats.” In Perverse Assemblages: Queering Heteronormativity Inter/Medially, Berlin, Germany: Revolver Publishing, 2018. 115-123.

  • "Profiling Surfaces." The Funambulist Papers, Vol. 2, New York: Punctum Books, 2015. 8-13.

  • "Afterword." Punkademics: The Basement Show in the Ivory Tower. Ed. Zack Furness. New York: Minor Compositions/Autonomedia, 2012.

  • "It’s (Not) a White World: Looking for Race in Punk." White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race. London: Verso, 2011.

  • “Race and Riot Grrrl.” In Riot Grrrl Revisited: Die Geschichte einer Bewegung, eds. Katja Peglow and Jonas Engelman. Berlin: Ventil Verlag, 2011. 

  •  "Bruce Lee I Love You: Discourses of Race and Masculinity in the Queer Superstardom of JJ Chinois." Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America. . Ed. Mimi T. Nguyen and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007. 271-304.

  • "Thoughts on Afropunk." Youth Subcultures: Exploring Underground America. . 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. Vancouver: Centre A, 2005. 66-75.

  •  "Vietnam: Journal/Journey." An Introduction to Women's Studies: Gender in a Transnational World, Second Edition. . Comp. Caren Kaplan. Ed. Inderpal Grewal. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005. 435-439.

  • "Queer Cyborgs and New Mutants: Race, Sexuality and Prosthetic Sociality in Digital Space." . Ed. Rachel Lee and Sau-Ling Wong. New York: Routledge Press, 2003. 281-305.

  • "Asiatic Geekgirl Agitprop from Paper to Pixels." Technicolor: Race, Technology and Everyday Life. . Ed. Thuy Linh Tu and Alondra Nelson. New York: New York University Press, 2001. 177-190.

Edited Books

  • Patty Ahn, Michelle Cho, Vernadette Vicuna Gonzalez, Rani Neutill, Mimi Thi Nguyen, and Yutian Wong, eds. Bangtan Remixed: A Critical BTS Reader. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2024.
  • Nguyen, Mimi T., and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu. Alien Encounters: Popular Culture in Asian America. . Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

Journal Articles

  • “Getting Over Ourselves.” In “Reckoning the Interdiscipline” special issue, Journal of Asian American Studies 25(2), 2022.   
  • “Poster Child.” In Women & Performance 30(1), 2020. 100-103. 
  •  “The Government Might Not Love You, But I Do.” In ArtLeaks Gazette 5,  April 2019: 70-72.

  • Nguyen, Mimi T., 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):
  • "The Hoodie as Sign, Screen, Expectation, and Force." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 40.4 (2015): 791-816.
  • "Minor Threats." Radical History Review (2015): 11-24.
  • "The Diasporic Erotic: Love, Loss, and the Copy." Camera Obscura 28.1 (2013): 68-101.
  • "Race, Riot Grrrl, and Revival." Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory 22.2-3 (2012): 173-196.
  • "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): 359-383.

Special Issues of a Journal

  • Ngo, Fiona I., Mimi T. Nguyen, and Mariam B. Lam. ""Guest Editors' Introduction"." "Southeast Asian American Studies". Spec. iss. of positions: east asian cultures critique 20.3 (2012): 671-684.
  • Nguyen, Mimi T. "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. Spec. iss. of Annals of Scholarship 18.2-3 (2009): 115-149.

Magazine Articles

  • “In Defense Of.” In The Funambulist 25, September-October 2019: 26-29.
  • "Dressed Down: The Politics of Hijab." ARTFORUM. 1 Jun. 2017: 290-293.

Website Articles

Recent Publications

Nguyen, M. T. (2022). Getting Over Ourselves. Journal of Asian American Studies , 25(2), 343-350.

Nguyen, M. T. (2021). Experience. In The Keywords Feminist Editorial Collective (Ed.), Keywords for Gender and Sexuality Studies (pp. 85-87). (Keywords; Vol. 13). NYU Press.

Thi Nguyen, M. (2020). Poster child. Women and Performance, 30(1), 100-103.

Nguyen, M. T. (2019). Our Students Are Radical Because They Live in the Real World. In J. Mink (Ed.), Teaching Resistance: Radicals in the Classroom (pp. 185-189). PM Press.

Kwon, S. A., & Nguyen, M. T. (2016). Non-Profits, NGOs, and "Community Engagement": Refiguring the Project of Activism in Gender and Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies. Scholar & Feminist Online, 13(2).

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