Fred Lee

Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian/Asian American Studies

In 2013, Fred Lee joined the UConn Department of Political Science, and in 2015, he was jointly appointed with the UConn Institute of Asian/Asian American Studies. Dr. Lee holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He works across the fields of contemporary political theory, comparative ethnic studies, U.S. political development, and Asian/Asian American cultural studies.

His first book is Extraordinary Racial Politics: Four Events in the Informal Constitution of the United States (Temple University Press, 2018). Here Lee argues “the informal constitution of the United States” has been repeatedly remade by extraordinary racial 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.

His next book is tentatively entitled Global Asian Science Fiction as Transpacific Political Theory. It deals with how filmmaker Bong Joon-ho and novelist Liu Cixin envision threats to biological and social life. Liu’s novels react “realistically” to the exhaustion of 20th century 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 thought. Lee argues that the former takes a problematically naturalistic view of humanity, while the latter 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.

Selected publications
“Contours of Asian American Political Theory: Introductions and Polemics,” Politics, Groups, and Identities 6, no. 3 (2018): 506-516
With Steven Manicastri, “Not All are Aboard: Decolonizing Exodus in Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer,” New Political Science, 40, no. 2 (2018)
“Post-Naturalistic Racialization in the ‘Post-Racial’ United States: The Shifting rather than Declining Significance of Race,” Theory & Event 20, no. 2 (2017)
“Fantasies of Asian American Kinship Disrupted: Identification and Disidentification in Michael Kang’s The Motel,” Critical Philosophy of Race 4, no. 1 (2016)
“Reconsidering the Jefferson-Hemings Relationship: Nationalist Historiography without Nationalist Heroes, Racial Sexuality without Racial Significance,” Political Research Quarterly (2013)
“Mark Bevir’s Democratic Governance in Radical Democratic Perspective,” International Journal of Organizational Theory and Behavior 14.4 (2011) [review essay]
“The Japanese Internment and the Racial State of Exception,” Theory and Event 10.1 (2007)

Undergraduate Courses

POLS 1002 Introduction to Political Theory
POLS 3012 Modern Political Theory
POLS 3017 Contemporary Political Theory
POLS 3082 Critical Race Theory

Graduate Courses
POLS 5100 Pro-Seminar in Political Theory
POLS 5105 Critical Theory



Dr Lee’s CV:

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