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Ava L.J. Kim


2022 Ph.D. Graduate
Dissertation Advisor(s): David L. Eng
"Trans / Nation: Gender and Democracy in an Age of Transition"

Assistant Professor, Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, University of California, Davis


Ava L.J. Kim is an Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of California, Davis. She previously held the 2022-2023 Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Trans Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Ava completed her PhD in English at the University of Pennsylvania and her BA in Creative Writing at Macalester College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Studies, GLQ, TSQ, Radical History Review's "The Abusable Past," and the edited collection, About Face: Stonewall, Revolt, and New Queer Art

Ava is a scholar of trans studies, postcolonial studies, 20th century literature, and comparative race. Her book-in-progress, Still / Life: Trans Genre and the Politics of Anti-Development, analyzes two seemingly disparate uses of “transition": first, to describe a person’s shift 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, Still / Life 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. 


At Penn, Ava was a co-founder and co-coordinator of the Trans Literacy Project. She previously served as the Graduate Coordinator of the Mellon Mays Fellowship program at Bryn Mawr College, co-coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Reading Group, co-director of the Queer Urgencies Conference, and SASgov (School of Arts and Sciences Government) Representative. 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. 

Articles and Book Chapters

Courses Taught

spring 2020

GSWS 350.301 Trans Method  

fall 2019

fall 2017