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 is currently pursuing two streams of research. The first is on Asian American political thinkers such as Claire Kim and Grace Lee Boggs. This project aims to establish Asian American political thought as a critical perspective and academic field. The second is on artists in East Asian speculative fiction such Bong Joon-ho and Liu Cixin. The basic aim here is to explore East Asian speculative fiction as a genre of political thought with a transcontinental (Asian/American) bent.

Lee in other works has explored U.S. racial incorporation after the 1960s-1970s, the project of radical democracy, and the relationship of neoliberalism and authoritarianism.


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

Selected publications

“On Claire Jean Kim’s Bitter Fruit: Asian American Positionality in Asian American Political Thought,” Polity 56, no. 2 (2024)

“Bong Joon-ho’s Okja: Transatlantic Racism, Transpacific Capitalism, and Intimate Subversion,” Polity 55, no. 1 (2023)

“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)

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-summer-2023
Office Location
Office HoursTuesday, Thursday 9:30-11:00 AM (