Kevin Duong teaches modern political thought and intellectual history in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. During AY 2023-25, he will also teach aesthetics and visual culture as a College Fellow in the undergraduate core, the Engagements. Much of his research focuses on expressions of revolutionary agency by “the people” in European thought and culture, but his interests extend beyond democratic theory to fields such as queer theory, political violence, the history of the human sciences, colonialism and empire, and the history of the left.
Duong is the author of The Virtues of Violence: Democracy Against Disintegration in Modern France (Oxford 2020). The book studies the recurring role of regenerative violence by “the people” in nineteenth century France, arguing for its importance for understanding modern republican democracy. He is also also editor of a special issue of New Political Science on “Violence” (Spring 2022), a journal for which he currently serves as Associate Editor. Other essays on 19th and 20th century political thought and intellectual history have appeared in venues such as Modern Intellectual History, Political Theory, and the American Political Science Review.
He is currently at work on two projects. The first, Revolutionary Mathematics: Universal Suffrage and its Utopian Pasts, reconstructs revolutionary conceptions of “the voice of the people” forged during the struggle for universal suffrage from the 1848 European revolutions to the heyday of anticolonialism after the Second World War. A second project, Freud Against Empire: An Experimental History, maps how an international cohort of midcentury radicals—Surrealist poets, painters, ethnographers, psychiatrists, and communists in France, Martinique, Cuba, and the United States—deployed psychoanalysis to undermine civilizational and global hierarchies.
Duong was educated in the public schools of east Tennessee through high school, and he earned his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and his master’s degree from the University of Chicago. He completed his doctoral work at Cornell University, where he also organized for the graduate workers’ union CGSU. Before joining UVA, he spent three years as an assistant professor at Bard College in upstate New York.