Ava L.J. Kim is a PhD Candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned a BA in Creative Writing at Macalester College where she also worked as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and Frank Karel Fellow. Ava's dissertation, "Trans / Nation: Gender and Democracy in an Age of Transition" analyzes two seemingly disparate uses of “transition”: first, to describe a person’s physical and/or psychic movement from one gender to another, and second, to narrate a nation’s political change through key terms like “democratization” and “development.” Taking case studies from Argentina, Chile, the Philippines, and Vietnam, "Trans / Nation" argues that these invocations of transition form a unified history of state management from the 1970s to the present, masking neoliberal violence and promoting one “proper” path to prosperity for both individuals and nations.
Ava is a co-founder and co-coordinator of the Trans Literacy Project. She previously served as co-coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Reading Group (2017-2019), co-director of the Queer Urgencies Conference (April 5-6, 2019), and SASgov (School of Arts and Sciences Government) Representative (2017-2018).
Ava is the Graduate Coordinator of the Mellon Mays Fellowship program at Bryn Mawr College. Her previous work experience includes managing national funds for supportive housing at Community Solutions and as an API People's Solidarity Organizer at the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV) in New York City.