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Leif Johnson

Research Interests:
Critical Masculinity Studies
Gender studies

Office hours Monday & Wednesday 2-3 PM.


MA - University of Kentucky, 2015: Geography

BA - Macalester College, 2011: Latin American Studies and International Studies


I'm a geographer interested in migration, borders, citizenship, and gender. While my current work is focused on internal migration within China, I'm interested in border politics writ large, and in trying to figure out how to get around, past, or under the boundaries that are thrown up against migration around the world.  In the past, I've worked on U.S.-focused migrant solidarity, but my current work outside of academia is focused on translation, working with radical and activist projects on Spanish-English and Chinese-English translations of texts and news from outside the U.S.  


My current research is focused on the ways that affective attachments and structures of feeling condition citizenship and belonging for male migrant construction workers in Shanghai. This project brings together perspectives from masculinity studies, citizenship studies, research on suzhi, and geographies of migration to better understand the granular, gendered, and embodied details of everyday exclusions from membership in urban space. 

This project builds on research I did as an MA student, focused on the legal aspects of China's hukou system, which resulted in the argument that urban Chinese migration policy in many ways mirrors the form and function of international border policy. All in all, my research is part of a broader program that I hope will help me get closer to the roots of spatial exclusion and division, and understand that if we want to critically address the concept of borders, we must think beyond the most obvious examples of international boundary lines.