From the US to China and back again: Meet Dr. Leksa Lee

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Dr. Lee visiting the Port of Shanghai

Dr. Aleksandra (Leksa) Lee joined the department this semester after spending the last several years teaching at NYU’s Shanghai campus.

Dr. Lee grew up in North Carolina and received her undergraduate degree from Duke, majoring in Chinese and Cultural Anthropology. Dr. Lee’s initial interest in Anthropology happened quite by accident when she wandered into the ANSO section of the Duke bookstore one day. She was amazed to find that textbooks existed about subjects such as the lived economies of border regions, sex work as labor, and on-the-ground accounts of failed development projects. She was especially intrigued that, like journalists working on urgent issues, anthropologists employed similar methods – interviews, observations, documents, and laws to develop their analyses. As Dr. Lee says, “I came to anthropology for the narratives, and I stayed for the constant challenge to make our accounts more and more honest.”

Since her first visit to China as an undergrad, Dr. Lee has enjoyed several opportunities to live and work there. She first spent time there as a college student and then returned when she worked for a British transnational consulting firm that inspects factories in major European brands’ supply chains. While working to improve workers’ pay, hours, and safety, she learned how global supply chains work. The realization that stark inequalities exist for people working in different parts of the world and that no easy solutions exist led Dr. Lee to pursue her Masters and PhD degrees in Anthropology from UC Irvine.

Upon returning to China with her doctorate, Dr. Lee began teaching Chinese and foreign students at NYU Shanghai. She enjoyed putting students together in transnational groups to research the global circulation of a product and then watching the different approaches they used. Another benefit of living in Shanghai was being able to indulge her love of Chinese street food, which is one of the aspects of her life in China that she will miss the most.

However, living back in the United States will have its perks, as well. She is looking forward to starting a new multi-sited research project on how investment capital is moving from China to the U.S. Plus, she is excited to have easy access to kettle corn again!

When not working on her academic pursuits, Dr. Lee enjoys listening to all kinds of podcasts and even doing a little sound editing herself.

As she begins her teaching career at Denison, Dr. Lee says, “I am really looking forward to finding out what kinds of futures the students are envisioning for themselves – though I’m sure it changes all the time! I’m also looking forward to developing new classes, perhaps around themes of debt, credit, hands-on supply chain research, and global digital business.”

With these kinds of aspirations, she will no doubt fit right in with the Global Commerce community.

Posted Date 
Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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