Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs

446 Robertson Hall
Julie Newton
External Website:


  • statebuilding
  • State capacity
  • Sovereignty
  • International intervention
  • political development
  • Foreign aid


Melissa M. Lee is Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs in the Department of Politics and the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Lee specializes in the international and domestic politics of statebuilding and state capacity. Much of her work examines how external actors shape the development of the state and disrupt political order. Her research interests also include the historical and domestic origins of state capacity and the politics of territorial change.

Lee's first book, Crippling Leviathan: How Foreign Subversion Weakens the State, is now available from Cornell University Press. Her research has also been published or is forthcoming in the American Journal of Political ScienceJournal of Politics, International OrganizationWorld Development, and Governance. Her work has received the American Political Science Association's Helen Dwight Reid Award (now Merze Tate) and Perry World House's Emerging Scholar Global Policy Prize

Lee received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and her B.A. in Political Science - International Relations from the University of California, San Diego. Before joining the faculty at Princeton, she was a pre-doctoral fellow at Stanford University's Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. In AY20-21, she will be in residence at the University of Pennsylvania as Perry World House's Lightning Scholar.

For more information, visit Lee's website or view her Google Scholar page.