Throughout the 1990s, Mimi Nguyen published the zines Aim Your Dick, Slant (later changed to Slander), and edited the compilation zine Evolution of a Race Riot (later shortened to Race Riot). She 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 and "shitworker" for Maximumrocknroll.
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. She has written numerous articles and book chapters about about race, gender, punk, and riot grrrl.
In 2011, she became an active collaborator in 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. In September and October 2012, Nguyen went on the first POC Zine Project/Race Riot! Tour, with Mariam Bastani (Maximumrocknroll), Anna Vo (Fix Your Head), Osa Atoe (Shotgun Seamstress), and Cristy Road.
- 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