Leigh Jenco

Leigh Jenco

Associate Professor in Political Theory

Email: L.K.Jenco@lse.ac.uk|
Office: CON 4.13, Connaught House
Tel: +44 (0)20 7107 5253
Office hours: Contact via email to arrange an appointment
Website: personal.lse.ac.uk/JENCO|


Leigh Jenco (BA, Bard College; MA and PhD, University of Chicago) was born near Pittsburgh, PA, USA but has since lived for extended periods in Nanjing, Chicago, Taipei, and Singapore. She joined LSE in 2012 but previously was appointed Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Political Theory Project, Brown University, USA (2007-2008); and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore (2008-2012). 

She situates her research and much of her teaching at the intersection of contemporary political theory and modern Chinese thought, emphasizing the theoretical and not simply historical value of Chinese discourses on politics. To that end, she has given talks in English and Mandarin across Asia and North America, and has published articles in journals such as the American Political Science Review, Political Theory, Journal of Asian Studies, and Philosophy East and West

She is also a steering committee member for a multi-conference project on De-Parochializing Political Theory: East Asian Perspectives on Politics, and has received grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the National University of Singapore.

She is the winner of the 2003 Foundations of Political Theory Best Paper Award for "Thoreau's Critique of Democracy" (Review of Politics, Summer 2003), and the 2008 Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Philosophy, awarded by the American Political Science Association.

Research Interests

My current book project, tentatively titled Changing Referents: Theorizing Across Space and Time, examines a series of debates in China from the mid-nineteenth to the twentieth centuries over the purposes and methods of cross-cultural learning. I argue that these conversations—in which the Chinese debated, among other things, the consequences of their own historical ethnocentrism and the inevitability of European modernity—offer useful means by which existing concerns about the parochialism of knowledge-production in modern academic life can be addressed.

I am also at work on an edited volume, Chinese Thought as Global Theory: Diversifying Knowledge Production in the Social Sciences and Humanities, which demonstrates the possibility of using Chinese thought and experience as the basis for generalizable social and political theory. The volume builds off of a conference held at the Asia Research Institute|, Singapore, in December 2011.

Teaching Responsibilities 

  • GV498: Multiculturalism
  • GV4G3: Foundations of Political Theory
  • GV4H1: Chinese Political Thought
  • GV510Doctoral Workshop: Political Theory
  • GV503Political Philosophy Research Seminar



Republicanism in the Northeast Asian Context, co-edited with Jun-Hyeok Kwak. Political Theories in East Asian Context series. (London: Routledge, forthcoming).

Chinese Thought as Global Theory: Diversifying Knowledge Production in the Social Sciences and Humanities, edited volume under review at Harvard University Asia Center / Harvard University Press.

Making the Political: Founding and Action in the Political Theory of Zhang Shizhao (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).  ISBN: 9780521760607

Other Selected Publications:

New Pasts for New Futures: A Temporal Reading of Global Thought, Constellations (forthcoming).

Histories of Thought and Comparative Political Theory: The Curious Thesis of ‘Chinese Origins for Western Knowledge,’ 1860-1895, Political Theory (forthcoming).



Revisiting Asian Values, Journal of the History of Ideas 74 no. 2 (April 2013).

Culture as History: Envisioning Change Across and Beyond “Eastern” and “Western” Civilizations in the May Fourth Era, Twentieth-Century China vol. 38 no.1 (January 2013).

Chinese Political Ideologies, Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies, ed. Michael Freeden (Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2013).

From Constitutional Listening to Constitutional Learning, Chicago-Kent Law Review, vol. 88 no. 1 (January 2013).

How Meaning Moves: Tan Sitong on Borrowing Across Cultures, Philosophy East and West, vol. 62 no. 2 (January 2012): 92-113.

Re-centering Political Theory: The Promise of Mobile Locality, Cultural Critique vol. 79 (Fall 2011): 27-59.

 'Rule by Man’ and ‘Rule by Law’ in Early Republican China: Contributions to a Theoretical Debate,  Journal of Asian Studies vol. 69  no. 1 (February 2010): 181-203.

Theorists and Actors: Zhang Shizhao on ‘Self-Awareness’ as Political Action, Political Theory, vol. 38 (April 2008): 213-238.

'What Does Heaven Ever Say?’ A Methods-Centered Approach to Cross-Cultural Engagement, American Political Science Review, vol. 101 no. 4 (November 2007): 741-755.

Thoreau’s Critique of Democracy, Review of Politics, vol. 65 (Summer 2003): 355-81.