Lei Duan, Ph.D.

Assistant ProfessorLei Duan


Ph.D., History, Syracuse University, 2017

M.Phil., History, Syracuse University, 2013

M.A., History, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2011

B.A., World History, Nankai University, 2008


Lei Duan is an assistant professor of East Asian history at Sam Houston State University. His research centers on the interplay between social violence and state power in modern China. He is currently finishing work on his first monograph, Arming and Disarming: The Culture and Politics of Guns in Modern China. A revised and expanded version of his dissertation, this book examines private gun ownership and its sociocultural and political implications in modern China from the late 19th century to the 1950s, a period when China underwent political upheaval and foreign invasion. Civilian ownership of guns not only contributed to persistent social violence, but also transformed power structures in local society and accelerated local militarization, changing the balance of power between state and society. His research attempts to offer a new prism through which to examine state-society relations in modern East Asia.

 His second ongoing project, tentatively entitled, Popular Power and the New Frontier: Constructing Socialist Chinas Borderlands, aims to provide a framework for thinking about ethnic integration and border security. This project explores the situational and dynamic ways in which Chinese Communists integrated armed individuals and groups in Tibet from the 1950s to the 1970s, while offering perspectives on the roots of present-day China’s ethnic unrest. His recent work has appeared or will be appearing in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Chinese Studies, ASIA Network Exchange, and two edited volumes. His research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the American Historical Association, the Association for Asian Studies, Academia Sinica, and various libraries and archives.

 Prior to joining SHSU in 2021, Dr. Lei Duan worked as a history lecturer at Arizona State University where he taught a wide range of courses on Asian and world history. From 2017 to 2019, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. in history from Syracuse University.