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East Asian

Program in Chinese History

At UCSB, three China specialists, Anthony Barbieri (ancient), Ya Zuo (middle period), and Xiaowei Zheng (late imperial and modern) work together to cover the long history of China. We train students to have a comprehensive understanding of Chinese history. We emphasize the importance of a comparative framework, skills in the digital humanities, and the ability to build connections beyond one’s immediate field, drawing upon philosophy, archaeology, art history, political science, and literature. As one of the few UC campuses that have a complete coverage from classical to modern China, we are highly collaborative and are deeply committed to train our students to be creative thinkers, meticulous researchers, and well-rounded scholars who will flourish in both research and professional development skills.
We will be accepting applications for the MA/PhD program in Chinese History for fall of 2024.

Program in Japanese History

The Japanese history program at UCSB trains students in early modern, modern, and postwar Japanese history. We emphasize close reading of sources, critical historiography, and comparative conceptual and historical thinking. Our students work closely with other faculty in the Department of History as well as the faculty in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies. We pride ourselves on our collaborative spirit and our commitment to students’ whole selves. 

The following faculty are in this field

Core Faculty

  • Anthony Barbieris work focuses on Ancient China within a global antiquity framework.  He has interests in the social, economic, legal, and material culture history of ancient China, with comparisons and connections to ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures.
  • Xiaowei Zheng researches modern China with interests in local history of the Qing empire and early republican political culture, with a particular focus on the emergence of popular nationalism and the potential of republicanism. She is also attracted to revolutions, and takes a special interest in the historiography of comparative revolutions, constitutionalism, and democracy.
  • Ya Zuois a cultural and intellectual historian of middle and late imperial China. Her interests broadly include the history of knowledge, Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism, sensory history, emotion studies, material culture studies, and interactions between China and the eastern Eurasian steppe. 
  • Kate McDonald researches the social, cultural, and technological history of mobility in twentieth century Japan and the Japanese Empire. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on modern and recent Japanese history, the history of infrastructure and ideology, and critical global history.
  • Luke Roberts is an archival historian who researches early modern Japanese history with interests in regional history, microhistory and diverse themes of society, gender, political economy and political culture.
  • Paul Spickard has research interests in ethnic minorities in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, as well as in Asian diasporas in the Americas, the Pacific, and Europe.

Affiliated Faculty


J. Elijah Bender, Assistant Professor of History, Concordia College

Erik Esselstrom, Professor of History, University of Vermont

Walter Grunden,  Professor of History, Bowling Green State University

Sean Harrington, Instructor, Fusion Academy

Moonsil Leei Kim, Associate Professor of History, Rhode Island College

Ben Ma, Assistant Professor of History, University of Macau

Laura Nenzi, Professor of History, Emory University

Travis Seifman, Research Scholar, Tokyo University Historiographical Institute

Viktor Shmagin, Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Williams College

Lily Welty Tamai, Lecturer of Asian American Studies, UCLA

Kirsten Ziomek, Associate Professor of History, Adelphi University