Aren Aizura is an assistant professor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. He brings expertise in queer theory, transgender studies, transnationality and immigration, and political economy and labor. Aizura earned a PhD in cultural studies from the University of Melbourne and before joining the University of Minnesota was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University. He also held a post-doctoral fellowship in Gender, Race and Science in the Department of Gender Studies at Indiana University.

Aizura’s interdisciplinary research looks at how queer and transgender bodies shape and are shaped by technologies of race, gender, transnationality, medicalization and political economy. He studies gender reassignment surgery tourism in Thailand and elsewhere; trans and queer migration, especially queer/trans involvement in transnational economies of care work; and looking at the circuitry of nationalism, and biopolitics and value as they relate to gender variant life.

His current book project, Mobile Subjects: travel, transnationality and transgender lives, maps the figure of transsexual transition as a travel narrative. The book examines this travel narrative against the colonial and imperial travel politics of modernity, neoliberal configurations of self-mobilizing subjectivities, and political and transnational economies governing the availability of healthcare. The book deploys interdisciplinary textual analysis, historiography, ethnographic research, and studies of law and medicine to trace the textual and material journeys of trans and gender non-conforming subjects. A key ethnographic case study examines Thailand as a global gender reassignment surgery destination. In documenting this form of medical tourism, the book enquires how transgender surgery culture is shaped by discourses of racialization, gender formation and aesthetics, and how new racialized subjects of femininity and masculinity are emerging at the intersection of affective labor, clinical care, and tourism.

Aizura's new research project works across medical anthropology and transnational studies to investigate the transnational circulation of new terminologies to describe gender variant and gender nonconforming people, particularly within global human rights discourse, non-governmental aid, and public health.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.
  • B.A.


  • queer theory and queer studies
  • transgender studies
  • South East Asian studies
  • labor and political economy
  • transnationality and globalization
  • science and medicine