Fred Lee

Associate Professor

Political Science and Asian and Asian American Studies

Political Theory and Race, Ethnicity, and Politics

Fred Lee received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles and his B.A. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. He is jointly appointed between Political Science and Asian/Asian American Studies, and holds affiliations with Africana Studies, American Studies, and Philosophy. He works across the fields of contemporary political theory, U.S. political development, Asian/Asian American cultural studies, and comparative ethnic studies.

His book is Extraordinary Racial Politics: Four Events in the Informal Constitution of the United States (Temple, 2018). Here he argues that extraordinary events—including 1830s-1840s Southeastern Amerindian removals, the Japanese internment, the civil rights movement, and 1960s-1970s empowerment movements—have repeatedly reshaped “the informal U.S. constitution.” 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 current book project, East Asian Science Fiction as Global Political Theory, recontextualizes Asian science fiction as Asian/Asian American political theory. The project focuses on novelist Liu Cixin and director Bong Joon-ho, two science fiction writers who are similarly preoccupied with environmental and technological threats to biological and social life. The analysis is structured around the comparison of Liu’s technocratic with Bong’s transformative politics.

Lee in other works has explored U.S. racial incorporation after the 1960s-1970s, the project of radical democracy, and the relationship of ethnic studies to political science.


  • Introduction to political theory
  • Critical race theory
  • Modern political theory
  • Contemporary political theory
  • Critical Theory [graduate seminar]

Selected publications

“Bong Joon-ho’s Okja: Transatlantic Racism, Transpacific Capitalism, and Intimate Subversion,” Polity (forthcoming as of 2022)

“Neoliberal and Authoritarian Updates on US White Democracy,” Politics, Groups, and Identities 10, no. 4 (2022); Winner of Pi Sigma Alpha Award for best paper presented at Western Political Science Association 2019 conference

“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 66, no. 3 (2013)

“Mark Bevir’s Democratic Governance in Radical Democratic Perspective,” International Journal of Organizational Theory and Behavior 14, no. 4 (2011) [review essay]

“The Japanese Internment and the Racial State of Exception,” Theory and Event 10, no. 1 (2007)

Fred Lee
Contact Information
Phone(860) 486-8834
Curriculum Vitae Fred-Lee-CV-1
Office Location
Office HoursTuTh 3:30 pm - 5 pm at