Charlie Yi Zhang

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  • Associate Professor, Gender and Women's Studies
  • Gender and Women's Studies
  • Social Theory
  • Health, Society and Populations
208 Breckinridge Hall
Research Interests:

Ph.D., Gender Studies, Arizona State University, 2013

M.A., Communication Studies, Fudan University, 2007

B.A., English, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2002



Charlie Yi Zhang is an associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky. He specializes in neoliberal globalization and its cultural and material articulations through gender, sexuality, race, and class in the Asia-Pacific region. His monograph, Dreadful Desires: The Uses of Love in Neoliberal China, is forthcoming with Duke University Press. At the center of Dreadful Desires is a vibrant landscape of public intimacy—as what Zhang calls “the borderless Loveland”—that subtends and underpins social upheavals across China and the globe. Drawing upon discursive analysis, empirical data, and ethnographic fieldwork as well as popular culture texts, he delineates how love is orchestrated as an apparatus of sentiments integrating individual subject making with exploitative biopolitics to serve collective interests of the Chinese state and transnational capital. On the one hand, his analysis unpacks the ways in which love is projected as a cluster of desirable potentialities that generate enduring attachment shaping people’s subjectivities, and how individual articulation of love is aligned with calculated regulation of population to reproduce labor force fueling China’s marketization and re-integration with the global economy. On the other hand, this engaged scrutiny casts light on the inherent contradiction between rationality and affect that spawns incessant ruptures within the transnational neoliberal system, such as unremitting resistance from the groups that are marginalized in the Loveland and escalating confrontation between the US and China. This book thus demonstrates how affect theory can be used as a heuristic device to reexamine challenges from neoliberalism, transnational labor exploitation, and rising authoritarianism for new possibilities of social change. 

Zhang's publications have appeared/are forthcoming in leading journals of gender and sexuality studies and Asian studes, including Feminist Studies, The Journal of Asian Studies, Feminist Formations, and Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies. He has received research awards in China and the US. 

Zhang's teaching interests include social movements, gender across the world, feminist theory, affect theory, masculinities studies, body and biopolitics, queer of color analysis, transnational sexualities, gender and sexuality in East Asia.

Selected Publications: 



Charlie Yi Zhang. 2022. Dreadful Desires: The Uses of Love in Neoliberal China. Durham, NC: Duke University Press ("Thought in the Act" series). 

Journal Articles

Charlie Yi Zhang. 2022. The Megacity that is Rescaled through Queerness—The BL-Mediated Spatialization of Bangkok in the (Post)COVID Era. The Journal of Cinema and Media Studies (forthcoming). 

Charlie Yi Zhang, Wen Liu, and Casey Lee. 2022. Racial Paranoia and Affective Cold Warism: Remapping Rival US-PRC Imperial Formations. Special Issue: From Anarchy to Chaos: Generation(s) of Empire, American Quarterly (equal contributions by the authors, forthcoming).

Charlie Yi Zhang and Adam K. Dedman. 2021. Hyperreal Homoerotic Love in a Monachized Military Conjuncture: A Situated View of the Thai Boys' Love Industry. Feminist Media Studies 21 Vol.6: 1039-1043.

Charlie Yi Zhang. 2021. Releasing Masculinity for a More Just World: Lessons on How to “Be Water” in Hong Kong. The Journal of Asian Studies 80 no.3: 683-704.

—The Annual Paper Prize (2021) of Southeast Confererence of Association for Asian Studies

Charlie Yi Zhang. 2018. Teaching Feminism as Slow Activism. Feminist Formations 30 no.3: 198-208. 

Charlie Yi Zhang. 2017. Revisiting the Trumpland from Critical Perspectives on Body (invited) (从西方身体理论的发展看“特朗普现象”). Literature and Culture Studies (文学与文化) Vol.2: 54-62

—Excellent Paper of the Year Award (2017) of Literature and Culture Studies

—Reprinted in Information Center for Social Science of Renmin University of China, 2017 (《人大复印资料》全文转载, 2017).

Charlie Yi Zhang. 2017. When Feminist Falls in Love with Queer: Dan Mei Culture as a Transnational Apparatus of Love. Feminist Formations 29 no.2: 121-146. 

Charlie Yi Zhang. 2016. Queering the National Body of Contemporary China. Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies 37 no.2: 1-26.

Charlie Yi Zhang. 2014. Untangling the Intersectional Biopolitics of Neoliberal Globalization: Asia, Asian and the Asia-Pacific Rim. Feminist Formations 26 no.3: 167-196.

Charlie Yi Zhang. 2014. Deconstructing the Hypermasculine National and Transnational Hegemony in Neoliberal China. Feminist Studies 40 no.1: 13-38

—The Best Paper Award for Graduate Students (2012) of Feminist Studies

Book Chapters

Charlie Yi Zhang. Speculative Mattering: Affect and the Stone that Becomes Valuable in Deep Time. In The Routledge Companion to Gender and Affect, edited by Todd Reeser. New York: Routledge (forthcoming). 

Wen Liu and Charlie Yi Zhang. 2022. Homonationalism as Site of Contestation and Transformation: On Queer Subjectivities and “Homo-transnationalism” across Sinophone Societies. In Homonationalism, Femonationalism and Ablenationalism: Critical Pedagogies Contextualised, edited by Angeliki Sifaki, C.L. Quinan, and Katarina Lončarević, 31-47. London: Routledge.

Srimati Basu and Charlie Yi Zhang. 2019. Family Law in Asia. Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History edited by Howard Chiang, 527-532. Farmington Hills, MI: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Charlie Yi Zhang. 2018. Mapping the Will for Otherwise: Towards an Intersectional Critique of the Biopolitical System of Neoliberal Governmentality. In Biopolitical Governance: Gender, Race and Economy, edited by Hannah Richter. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 139-159.