Xinzhi Zhao

Position title: Ph.D. Candidate: Political Theory | Comparative Politics


CV | Google Scholar

Research Interests

History of Political Thought, Political Epistemology, Moral Psychology


Xinzhi Zhao is a Ph.D. candidate in political theory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studies modern political and social thought. Her dissertation examines the notion of “impartiality” in 18th-century social scientific inquiry, particularly in the works of David Hume and Adam Smith. Her broad research interests include conceptualizations of the proper relationship between intellectual elites and ordinary citizens in producing public knowledge, and conceptions and practices of “enlightenment” across varied institutional and cultural contexts.

Zhao is interested in how the history of political thought can speak to contemporary concerns. Her peer-reviewed articles can be found in The Adam Smith Review (Vol. 14, forthcoming) and Política & Sociedade (Vol. 20, No. 47, 2021). She also made an invited contribution to Hobbes Studies (Vol. 35, Issue 1, 2022).

Apart from her research, Zhao is passionate about teaching. She received the “Inaugural Teaching Assistant Award” from the Department of Political Science at UW-Madison in 2020 and was selected by the College of Letters and Science at UW-Madison as a Teaching Mentor in 2022.

Originally from Beijing, China, Zhao received bachelor’s degrees in international politics and history (2012) and a master’s degree in comparative politics (2015) from Peking University. She has also been an exchange student at the University of Tokyo and Seoul National University. Before coming to Madison, she studied political theory at Duke University as a master’s student and received an M.A. in political science from Duke in 2017.