Position Type
- Present
She / Her / Hers

Leksa Lee is an anthropologist and an Assistant Professor of Global Commerce. Her research is focused on the rise of China, postsocialist capitalism, and the design of the built environment. Her book project is an ethnography of a design firm in China that builds new museums, theme parks, and tourism developments for local government urban development projects. The book follows the bidding, negotiation, and contracting process, the design process in the studio, and how culture and history are ultimately portrayed in these spaces when they are finished.

Dr. Lee’s next research project examines how elite Chinese people’s use of investor visa programs is reshaping urban spaces in the United States, Canada, and Australia. In investor visa programs like the US’s EB-5 visa, wealthy citizens of developing countries obtain residence permits for developed countries in exchange for making business investments there, often in real estate. This multi-sited project is based on fieldwork with project designers and consultants in China, as well as interviews with immigrants and developers in receiving countries.

Before becoming an anthropologist, Dr. Lee worked in transnational consulting for a British firm that contracted with High Street brands to inspect factories in southern China and improve working conditions there. After becoming an anthropologist, Dr. Lee taught Global China Studies and Anthropology at NYU Shanghai. Her research has been funded by the Fulbright Commission, the Association for Asian Studies, and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation.

B.A. Duke University, M.A., Ph.D. University of California Irvine

Learning & Teaching

  • GC101: Commerce and Society
  • GC201: Elements of Commerce
  • GC401: Global Commerce Senior Seminar


  • Forthcoming. Developmental Speculation: Materializing the Future in China’s Urban Planning Museums. Anthropological Quarterly.
  • 2020. Exhibiting Growth: Producing State-Market Hybridity in China’s Museum Industry, Ethnos 87:3, 560-583.


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