Victor Zatsepine

Associate Professor of History and Asian and Asian American Studies

I joined UConn in 2013 appointed jointly to the History Department and the Asian American Institute. My research and teaching is focused on the history of modern China, the Russian Far East, and East Asian frontier lands. Born in Samara in the former Soviet Union, I studied Mandarin in Beijing as an undergraduate student. I have spent more than two decades studying and teaching in Asia (Beijing and Hong Kong), and completed my graduate studies at Harvard University and at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Prior to joining UConn, I worked as a research assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong. 

Research: My monograph Beyond the Amur: Frontier Encounters Between China and Russia, 1850-1930  was published by the University of British Columbia Press in 2017. Since then I have continued research on the Sino-Russian frontier, border towns, the Chinese and Russian diaspora, migration and Western Imperialism in East Asia. Over the past decade I presented my research at major international conferences and workshops in the U-S, Canada, U-K, Germany, China, South Korea and Japan, and this has resulted in published articles, book chapters and an edited volume. I have also taken part in collaborative projects, supported by multiple grants, with the University of Hong Kong, Peking University, Cambridge University and Essex University (U-K). I have served on the board of the Journal of Northeast Asian History (South Korea).

In my research, I embrace transnational and trans-regional approaches to examine the movement of people, ideas, and goods across borders. I am able to incorporate a broad range of sources because of my fluency in Mandarin and Russian languages (as well as Spanish) and my deep lived experience in the region. I myself am transnational, and my transnational approach intersects with the type of work done in critical East Asian and Asian American Studies. It engenders a new, more nuanced, and humane way of understanding borders and borderlands.

Teaching:  All the courses I teach at UConn are cross-listed as History and Asian American Studies. Among them is a two-semester course on the long history of East Asia, China and the West, and the Foreign Policy of the People’s Republic of China. A growing number of students who have taken my classes, have continued on in Asian American and East Asia studies. I see teaching as my vocation. 

Media: I worked in journalism in Beijing for several years in the 1990s, when China was recovering from political turmoil and turning into an economic powerhouse. I had come to China from Russia as a language student, but then worked as a freelance researcher, translator and field journalist for the Associated Press, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It was a remarkable period and I was an eyewitness to history.




  • Beyond the Black Dragon River: Frontier Encounters Between China and Russia (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2017).
  • Laura Victoir and Victor Zatsepine eds., Harbin to Hanoi: Colonial Built Environment in East Asia, 1840-1940 (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2013).

Book Chapters:

  •  “Surveying Manchuria: Imperial Russia’s Topographers at Work,” in Dan Ben-Canaan, Frank Grüner and Ines Prodöhl, eds., Entangled Histories: The Transcultural Past of Northeast China (Heidelberg, New York, London: Springer, 2014), pp. 177-188.
  • “The Blagoveshchensk Massacre of 1900: The Sino-Russian War and Global Imperialism,” in James Flath and Norman Smith, eds., Beyond Suffering: Recounting War in Modern China (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2011), pp. 107-129.
  • “Three Nations in Search of Manchuria’s Past,” in Geritt Gong and Victor Teo, eds., Reconceptualising the Divide: Identity, Memory and Nationalism in Sino-Japanese Relations (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), pp. 119-134.

Edited Academic Journal Issue:

  • Loretta Kim, Matthew W. Mosca and Victor Zatsepine, eds., “Interfaces in Qing Frontier History,” in Frontiers of History in China, Vol. 9, No. 3 (2014). Introduction, pp. 329-335.

Articles in Academic Journals:

  • “Divided Loyalties: Russian Emigres in Japanese-Occupied Manchuria,” in History and Anthropology (July 2017), 471-476.
  • “Historical Legacies and Cinematic Representations of Cross-Border Interactions between China and Russia,” in Yuki Konagaya and Olga Shaglanova eds., Northeast Asian Borders: History, Politics, and Local Societies. Senri Ethnological Studies 92 (Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 2016), 47-62.
  • “An Uneasy Balancing Act: The Russian Émigré Community and Utopian Ideals of Manzhouguo,” in The Journal of Northeast Asian History, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Summer 2013), pp. 131-153.


Contact Information
Phone(860) 486 – 0648
Office LocationWood Hall – Room 307