Associate Professor of Gender & Women's Studies and Vice Chair for Research
Office: 624 Barrows Hall (Spring 2016 Office Hours: W 2:00 - 4:00pm and by appt)

Mel Y. Chen is Associate Professor of Gender & Women's Studies at U.C. Berkeley and an affiliate of the Center for Race and Gender, the Science and Technology Studies Center, and the Institute for Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences.

Mel's research and teaching interests include queer and gender theory, animal studies, critical race theory and Asian American studies, disability studies, science studies, and critical linguistics. In the Fall of 2009, Mel convened "Species Spectacles", a U.C. Humanities Research Institute Residential Research Group focused on animality, sexuality and race. Mel's short film, Local Grown Corn (2007), explores interweavings of immigration, childhood, illness and friendship; it has played in both asian and queer film festivals.

Mel's book, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect, was released in July 2012 with Duke University Press in the Perverse Modernities series. In 2014, it won the Alan Bray Memorial Book Award, given by the GL/Q Caucus at the MLA.

  • Mel Chen's Animacies book wins MLA's Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize
    Jan 6 2014 - 10:10am

    Professor Mel Chen's beautiful, provocative and inspirational book Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Duke Univ. Press, 2012). has won the MLA's Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize. This prize is given for an outstanding book in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer studies in literature and cultural studies. Congratulations Mel!

Selected Publications

Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Duke University Press, Perverse Modernities series). 2012.

“Asian American Speech, Civic Place, and Future Nondisabled Bodies,” Amerasia Journal, 39:1, 91-105. 2013.

“Masked States and the ‘Screen’ Between Security and Disability.” Women’s Studies Quarterly, 40:1-2, 76-96. 2012.

“Toxic Animacies, Inanimate Affections.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. 17:2-3, 265-286. 2011.

“Animals without Genitals: Race and Transsubstantiation.” Women in Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory. 20:3, 285-297. 2010.

“Everywhere Archives: Transgendering, Trans Asians, and the Internet.” Australian Feminist Studies. 25:64, 199-208. 2010.

“Queer Vibrations.” In Media Res. May 6, 2010.

“Racialized Toxins and Sovereign Fantasies.” Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture. 29:2, 367-383. 2007.

“Affect in Language Interpretation.” In Michael Achard and Suzanne Kemmer, eds. Language, Culture, and Mind. Stanford: CSLI Publications, 37-54. 2004.

“The Space of Identity: A Cognitivist Approach to ‘Outsider’ Discourses.” In Anna Duszak, ed. Us and Others: Social identities across languages, discourses and cultures. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 87-110. 2002.

“Crossing Performativities: ‘Reclaiming’ as Both Utterance and Gender Construction.” In Celia Rothenberg and Gail Currie, eds. Feminist (Re)visions of the Subject. Oxford and New York: Lexington Press, 239-260. 2000.


Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect
Mel Y. Chen
Duke University Press, Perverse Modernities series, 2012

In Animacies, Mel Y. Chen draws on recent debates about sexuality, race, and affect to examine how matter that is considered insensate, immobile, or deathly animates cultural lives. Toward that end, Chen investigates the blurry division between the living and the dead, or that which is beyond the human or animal.

Short film: Local Grown Corn (2007), digital video
  • Queer and feminist theory
  • Critical animal studies
  • Cultural politics of race, sexuality, ability, and immigration
  • Critical linguistics
  • Paradigms of interdisciplinarity