Throughout the 1990s, Mimi Nguyen published the zines Aim Your Dick, and Slant, later changed to Slander, and edited the compilation zine Evolution of a Race Riot in 1997 and 2002 (later shortened to Race Riot for its second issue), focused on creating a dialogue about race and racism in punk and punk-adjacent scenes, by and for punks of color. Her zines focused on race, gender, and politics, with explicit commitments to postcolonial and women of color feminisms. She also contributed to zines such as How to Stage a Coup, Hard as Nails, and Sty Zine, in addition to being a regular columnist for Punk Planet (1998-2005) and "shitworker" for Maximumrocknroll (1998-2004). She continues to publish Slander.
Nguyen holds a PhD in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently an 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 and its afterlife (Duke University Press, 2012). She also co-edited Alien Encounters: Pop Culture in Asian America (Duke University Press, 2007) and co-writes Threadbared, a research blog on the politics of fashion and beauty.
In 2011, she collaborated with the POC Zine Project (founded by Daniela Capistrano), scanning and distributing both issues of Race Riot online and organizing donations of zines by people of color to academic archives and zine libraries. Nguyen went on the first POC Zine Project/Race Riot! Tour in 2012, with Mariam Bastani (Maximumrocknroll), Anna Vo (Fix Your Head), Osa Atoe (Shotgun Seamstress), and Cristy Road, and again in 2013. She continues to support and organize events and readings by and for POC punks, working with some of her former tour mates, including Nyky Gomez (Skinned Heart and Brown Recluse Zine Distro). In June 2013, Sarah McCarry published on Guillotine Press a conversation between Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour (Maximumrocknroll) as a chapbook called PUNK.
- The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages, Duke University Press, 2012
- Alien Encounters: Pop Culture in Asian America, Duke University Press, 2007