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Lei Lin

Assistant Professor of History at Duke Kunshan University
DKU Faculty


PhD, Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, Harvard University
MA, Regional Studies of East Asia, Harvard University
Double-major BA, History/Economics, Renmin University

Lei Lin specializes in the pre-modern and early modern history of China, particularly the Qing empire (1644–1911), with a focus on frontiers and borderlands, inter-polity relations, material culture, and the ways in which these issues informed empire-building. Using the paradigms of transnational history and empire studies, her research goes beyond the limits of modern nation-states and examines the position of the trans-Himalayan region in global history through a framework of comparative imperialism. Her research draws on sources in multiple languages, including Chinese, Manchu, Tibetan, and Nepali, collected through extensive archival research in Beijing, Taipei, Lhasa, and Kathmandu. She is currently completing her first book project, “The Limits of Empire: The Qing-Gurkha War and China’s Trans-Himalayan Frontier, 1788–1793.”

Her research has been generously funded by the American Historical Association, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard Asia Center, the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the Fung Foundation, and the Henry Luce Foundation.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Assistant Professor of History at Duke Kunshan University · 2021 - Present DKU Faculty