Kevin Duong is an Assistant Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia. There he teaches European political thought and intellectual history with a particular focus on modern France. Much of his research focuses on how the revolutionary agency of “the people” is expressed, but his interests extend beyond democratic theory to fields such as queer theory, critical theory, visual culture, 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. It builds on his dissertation which won the 2017 Leo Strauss Award from the American Political Science Association. He also edited 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, The Dreamworlds of Universal Suffrage, brings together political theory with visual culture and the history of science. It reconstructs revolutionary conceptions of “the voice of the people” forged during the struggle for universal suffrage from the 1848 European revolutions to the triumph of neoliberalism in the 1970s. A second project, Freud Against Empire: An Experimental History, maps how an international cohort of midcentury radicals—from surrealist poets and painters in Paris to psychiatrists in Harlem and intellectuals at UNESCO—deployed psychoanalysis to undermine racial hierarchy and civilizational difference. He will be a visiting fellow at Cornell’s Society for the Humanities for AY 2022-23 to study the intersections of French socialism, anti-fascism, and antiracist psychiatry at Harlem’s Lafargue Clinic (1946-1958).
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-AFT. Before joining UVA, he spent three years as an assistant professor at Bard College in upstate New York