Faculty Directory

Maya K. Peterson
  • Title
    • Assistant Professor
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • History Department
  • Affiliations Environmental Studies Department
  • Phone
    831-459-4915 (office), 831-459-2555 (message)
  • Email
  • Office Location
    • Stevenson College Academic Building, 216
  • Office Hours Winter 2019 Wed., 10-11:45 am
  • Mail Stop Stevenson Academic Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Environmental History, History, Water, Colonialism, European Studies, History of Science, Russia, Soviet and Post Soviet Studies, Environmental Studies, Asian Studies
  • Courses History 100: Historical Skills and Methods; HIS 152 Trade and Travel on the Silk Roads; HIS 173A Medieval Russia; HIS 173B Imperial Russia, 1696-1917; HIS 173C The Soviet Union; HIS 177 Environment in the 19th Century; HIS 196V The Soviet Experience; HIS 196W Brave New World: Visions of Utopia in the Soviet Union; HIS 202 Practicing World History; HIS 251A Readings in Modern European History: Environment and Technology

Summary of Expertise

Russian History
European History of the 19th and 20th centuries
Environmental History
Central Asia

Research Interests

Imperial Russian and Soviet history
Comparative empire/colonialism
Central Asian history
Environmental History
History of engineering
History of frontiers and borderlands

Biography, Education and Training

Ph.D. in History, Harvard University, 2011
A.M. in Regional Studies: Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, Harvard University, 2005
B.A. with High Honors in History (major), Russian (minor), and German Studies (concentration), Swarthmore College, 2002

Honors, Awards and Grants

  • Visiting Researcher, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen, Germany (Fall 2018)
  • UCHRI Junior Faculty Manuscript Workshop award, 2017
  • UCSC IHR Faculty Fellowship, 2016
  • Carson Center Fellowship, 2012-13 (Rachel Carson Center, LMU, Munich, Germany)                            
  • College Fellowship, 2011-12 (Dept. of the History of Science, Harvard University)
  • Social Science Research Council Eurasia Dissertation Support Fellowship, 2010-11
  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, 2008-09
  • Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2008-09
  • Social Science Research Council Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship, 2007
  • Merle Fainsod Prize, 2005-06; 2003-04 (Harvard University)
  • Roger Martin Travel and Research Grant, 2005-06 (Harvard University)
  • Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship (Russian), 2004-05; 2003-04
  • Abby and George O'Neill Graduate Research Travel Grant, 2004 (Harvard University)
  • Fulbright IIE Fellowship, 2002-03 (Berlin, Germany)  
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 2002                                                                                

Selected Publications

Pipe Dreams: Water and Empire in Central Asia's Aral Sea Basin (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, forthcoming 2019).


"US to USSR: American Experts, Irrigation, and Cotton in Soviet Central Asia, 1929-32," Environmental History 21, 3 (2016): 442-466.


"Engineering Empire: Russian and Foreign Hydraulic Experts in Central Asia, 1887-1917." Cahiers du Monde Russe, Special Issue: “Land, soil and people. Agricultural expertise and power (19th-20th centuries),” 57, 1 (January-March 2016): 125-146.


Marks, Peterson, Gao, and Worster, roundtable on Ling Zhang, The River, the Plain, and the State: An Environmental Drama in Northern Song China, 1048–1128, ed. Chris F. Jones. H-Environment Roundtable Reviews 8, 4 (2018)

Teaching Interests

Russian and Soviet history
Modern European history
Environmental History
History of Science and Technology
History of the Silk Roads
Comparative empire/colonialism
Comparative borderlands