As a scholar of Native American ethnology and ethnohistory, Kan has been interested in ways in which Alaska Native (particularly Tlingit) cultures have changed over time while preserving some of their core values and maintaining a distinct indigenous identity. He has also researched the history of American and Russian anthropology, particularly the interaction between Boasian and Russian anthropology from the early 1900s through the 1940s. His major current project in the history of anthropology is an intellectual biography of Alexander Goldenweiser (1880-1940), a porminent American anthropologist of Russian-Jewish descent. Currently, he is also preparing for publication an annotated book of photographs taken in Sitka, Alaska by Elbridge W. Merrill(1897-1929). He has also begun a large project on the history and culture of the Creole (Russian-Native) community of Sitka, Alaska.