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

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

Lee is the author of Crippling Leviathan: How Foreign Subversion Weakens the State (Cornell University Press 2020). Her research has also been published or is forthcoming in the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and International Organization, and her policy writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs. Her work has received the American Political Science Association's 2016 Helen Dwight Reid (now Merze Tate) award 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 from the University of California, San Diego. In AY20-21, she will be on leave at the University of Pennsylvania as the Perry World House Lightning Scholar.

Selected Publications

Lee, Melissa M. 2020. Crippling Leviathan: How Foreign Subversion Weakens the State. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Zhang, Nan, and Melissa M. Lee. "Literacy and State-Society Interactions in 19th Century France." Accepted, American Journal of Political Science.

Lee, Melissa M. 2018. “The International Politics of Incomplete Sovereignty: How Hostile Neighbors Weaken the State.” International Organization 72(2): 235–315.

Lee, Melissa M., and Nan Zhang. 2017. “Legibility and the Informational Foundations of State Capacity.” Journal of Politics 79(1): 118–132.

Selected Honors and Awards

2016 Helen Dwight Reid (now Merze Tate) award for the best dissertation in the field of international relations, law, and politics