Fred Lee

Professor of Political Science and Asian and Asian American Studies

In 2015, Fred Lee became a Core Faculty of the Asian/Asian American Studies Institute with a joint appointment in Political Science and Asian American Studies. Dr. Lee received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles and his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. His specialties include contemporary political theory, U.S. political development, Asian American Studies, and comparative ethnic studies. Prior to his arrival at UConn, Lee taught at the Claremont Colleges and held a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellowship at Denison University.

His forthcoming book, Extraordinary Racial Politics: Four Events in the Informal Constitution of the United States, expansively conceptualizes “the U.S. constitution” as an ongoing racial project. This project has been repeatedly reconstituted by extraordinary events—including 1830s to 1840s Southeastern Amerindian removals, the Japanese internment, the civil rights movement, and 1960s to 1970s racial empowerment movements. Lee shows that these cases of state emergency and mass mobilization occur outside of the repertoires of quotidian life and the routines of institutionalized governance; more generally, Lee argues that extraordinary racial politics have the power to remake the norms of and redirect the trajectories of everyday racial politics.

Lee’s next book will “misread” transpacific science fiction as Asian/Asian American political theory. It deals with how Bong Joon-ho and Liu Cixin envision threats to biological and social life. Liu’s novels react “realistically” to the exhaustion of 20thcentury Marxist projects, while Bong’s films strive for alternative leftist visions. Differently contextualized, Liu’s focus on security aligns with realist international relations, while Bong’s gesture toward futures aligns with “progressive” political theory. Lee argues that the former—like positivistic social science—takes a problematically naturalistic view of humanity, while the latter—like interpretive social science—takes a properly humanistic view of politics.

Lee in other works has explored U.S. racial incorporation after the 1960s-1970s, the project of radical democracy, the relationship of ethnic studies to political science, and the relationship of cultural studies to political theory. His publications have appeared in Theory & Event, Political Research Quarterly, Critical Philosophy of Race, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, New Political Science, Contemporary Political Theory, and Politics, Groups, and Identities [forthcoming].

At the University of Connecticut, Lee teaches an Introduction to Political Theory, Modern Political Theory (17th-19thcentury), Contemporary Political Theory (20th-21st century), Critical Race Theory, and a graduate seminar on Critical Theory.

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