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Victor Seow

Assistant Professor, Department of History
Photo of Victor Seow

Former Cornell faculty.

I am a historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century China, with research interests in issues of energy, science and technology, the environment, industry, labor, and state power. My current book project brings together this range of topics in a study of fossil fuels in the making of modern East Asia. Titled Carbon Technocracy: East Asian Energy Regimes and the Industrial Modern, 1900-1957, this project uses the case of coal mining in Manchuria to examine the broader significance of carbon energy to the Chinese and Japanese states that had at different times extended control over this region. By following processes of coal extraction, distribution, and use on the one hand and the all-too-often heated discussions over access to energy resources on the other, I explore the co-production of calorific and political power that gave rise to trans-war East Asian technocratic regimes. My other ongoing projects include a history of the automobile in twentieth-century China and a trans-Pacific study of Chinese industrial cooperatives.