Leksa Lee, B.A. 2006

Assistant Professor of Global Commerce, Denison University, Granville, OH

B.A., Cultural Anthropology and Asian/African Languages and Literature (Chinese Concentration) (2006)

How has being a Cultural Anthropology graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"Majoring in Cultural Anthropology made me unafraid to travel abroad, try new things, put myself in uncomfortable situations, and do all these things alone when necessary. After graduating from Duke with mentorship (very often undeserved but deeply appreciated) by Ralph Litzinger, Anne Allison, and Irene Silverblatt in Cultural Anthropology, as well as Sucheta Mazumdar in History, I found excuses to be in China for the next few years, always working on my Chinese. I worked at a British transnational supply chain consulting firm in China, which helped me develop a deeper understanding of how China was changing along with the global economy. Eventually I decided I wanted to become an anthropologist so that I could look at this situation in greater depth, from without as well as within. Today I work in a Global Commerce academic department, drawing on my training in anthropology and on my experience in consulting. I'm writing a book that examines a changing China through the lens of one design firm, working from the perspective of anthropology of capitalism, postsocialist studies, China Studies, and the anthropology of history and memory - so many of these interests were first sparked by Duke's Cultural Anthropology faculty."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Cultural Anthropology programs?

"Based on my own experience, something Cultural Anthropology majors can do today to prepare for life after college is get involved in activities outside the university that they are passionate about such as internships and community research projects. Then when it is time to apply for jobs, draw clear lines between those experiences and the demands of the positions they are applying for. One thing I wish I had done is minor in statistics or data science. Since Cultural Anthropology is the study of human cultural difference, these quantitative fields can provide a fascinating complement to Cultural Anthropology for thinking about change over time and population-level diversity. These skills are also very much in demand on the job market today."

Leksa Lee