Research Interests: History, Environment, East Asian Studies, History of Environmental Sciences, Material Culture, STS, Technology and Society
Victor Seow is a historian of technology, industry, and the environment who specializes in China and Japan in the long twentieth century. His work is primarily concerned with the social and economic dimensions of technological development and environmental management in the rise and recession of East Asian industrial orders.
Seow is currently finishing his first book, Carbon Technocracy: Energy Regimes in the Making of Modern East Asia, an exploration of how coal resources and mining technologies shaped Chinese and Japanese experiences with global industrial modernity. Other ongoing and future research projects include a comparative history of deindustrialization in China, Japan, and the United States, a history of technology in China’s reform era, and a history of Chinese environmental engineering.
At Harvard, Seow will be offering courses in the history of modern science and technology in East Asia, the history of science, technology, and capitalism, the history of energy, and the history of the automobile.
Born and raised in Singapore, Seow received his B.A. in History and Political Science from McGill University and his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University. Before joining the Harvard faculty in 2017, he was an Assistant Professor of History at Cornell University.
Carbon Technocracy: Energy Regimes in the Making of Modern China and Japan (forthcoming)
“Fuels and Flows: Rethinking Histories of Transportation and Mobility through Energy,” Transfers:
Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies 4.3 (Winter 2014): 112-116
“Socialist Drive: The First Auto Works and the Contradictions of Connectivity in the Early People’s Republic
of China,” Journal of Transport History 35.2, special issue on Histories of Transport, Mobility, and Environment
(December 2014): 145-161
Review of Toby Lincoln, Urbanizing China in War and Peace: The Case of Wuxi County (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2015) in The Journal of Asian Studies 75.4 (2016): 1118-1120
Review of Takashi Nishiyama, Engineering War and Peace in Modern Japan, 1868-1964 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) in The Historian 78.3 (2016): 555-556
Review of Aaron Stephen Moore, Constructing East Asia: Technology, Ideology, and Empire in Japan’s Wartime Era, 1931-1945 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2013) in Pacific Affairs 89.1 (2016): 123