Rana Mitter


Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China; Fellow of St Cross College

Faculty / College Address:

Oriental Institute / St Cross College



Research Interests:

  • Contemporary Chinese nationalism
  • Republican era Chinese history
  • The Sino-Japanese War, 1931-1945, and its legacy
  • Comparative Cold War social and cultural history

Current Projects:

  • Principal Investigator for “China's War with Japan”: interdisciplinary research project funded by a Leverhulme Research Leadership Award.
  • The Making of Postwar order in Europe and East Asia: part of the Oxford-Princeton research collaboration (project leaders: Martin Conway, Jan Gross)
  • Cold War Cultures and Societies project (with Patrick Major, University of Warwick)

Courses Taught:

  • Government and Politics of China (PPE)
  • China in War and Revolution, 1890-1949 (Modern History)
  • Modern Chinese politics and history (M Phil in Modern Chinese Studies)
  • International History 1900-1945 (M Phil in International Relations)

Recent Publications:


  • Modern China: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780199228027
  • A Bitter Revolution: China’s struggle with the modern world (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004,pbk 2005) Winner, Times Higher Education Supplement Young Academic Author of the Year 2005; Proxime accessit (runner-up) for the 2005 Longman/History Today Book of the Year prize; Finalist for British Academy Book Prize 2005; Foreign Affairs “must-read” Notable Book on China 2005; Translations in Romanian, Polish, forthcoming in Chinese (PRC and HK editions), Japanese, http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780192806055
  • The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, resistance and collaboration in modern China (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000) Honourable Mention, Gladstone Prize of the Royal Historical Society, 2001 http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/8789.html

Books (as co-editor):

  • Ruptured Histories: War and Memory in Post-Cold War Asia (edited with Sheila Miyoshi Jager) (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007)
  • Across the Blocs: Cold War Cultural and Social History (edited with Patrick Major) [Previously published as a special edition of Cold War History, Oct. 2003] (London: Frank Cass, 2004)

Journal articles:

  • “Writing war: Modernity, disaster and narrative strategies in wartime China, 1937-46.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 2008 (forthcoming).
  • “Picturing victory: the visual imaginary of the War of Resistance, 1937-47.” European Journal of East Asian Studies 7:1 (forthcoming 2008).
  • “Le Massacre de Nankin: Mémoire et oubli en Chine et au Japon.” (translated by Bruno Poncharal) Vingtième Siècle 94 (April-June 2007), pp. 11-23.
  • “Modernity, internationalisation, and war in the history of modern China.” The Historical Journal (June 2005), pp431-46.
  • “East is East and West is West: Towards a Comparative Sociocultural History of the Cold War.” (with Patrick Major) Cold War History 4:1 (October 2003), pp. 1-22.
  • “The Individual and the International ‘I’: Zou Taofen and Changing Views of China’s Place in the International System.” Global Society 17:2 (2003), pp. 121-133.
  • “Old ghosts, new memories: changing China’s war history in the era of post-Mao politics,” in Journal of Contemporary History (January 2003), pp. 117-131.
  • “Contention and redemption: Ideologies of National Salvation in Republican China.” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 3:3 (Winter 2002), pp. 44-74.
  • “Behind the scenes at the museum: nationalism, history and memory in the Beijing War of Resistance Museum.” The China Quarterly (March 2000), pp. 279-293.
  • “Complicity, repression, and the region: Yan Baohang and the emergence of centripetal nationalism, 1931-49.” Modern China 25:1 (January 1999), pp.44-68.
  • “Reassessing the resistance: Ma Zhanshan in Heilongjiang, 1931-2.” Papers on Chinese History 5 (Spring 1996), pp. 99-119.

Chapters in edited volumes:

  • “Aesthetics, Modernity, and Trauma: Public Art and the Memory of War in Contemporary China,” in Vishakha Desai, ed., Asian Art History in the Twenty-First Century (Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2008).
  • “Maps, minds and visions: Chiang Kaishek, Mao Zedong and China’s place in the world,” in ‘Mental Maps’ of the Era of Two World Wars (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008)
  • “Maoism in the Cultural Revolution: A Political Religion?” in Robert Mallett, John Tortorice and Roger Griffin, ed., The Sacred in Twentieth-Century Politics: Essays in Honour of Professor Stanley G. Payne (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008).
  • “Hegemony and liberation: Mao Zedong and Zou Taofen in early twentieth-century China,” in John Chalcraft and Yaseen Noorani, ed., Counterhegemony in the Colony and Postcolony (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007, forthcoming)
  • “Life as they knew it: Du Zhongyuan’s editorial strategies for the Xinsheng weekly, 1934-35,” in Daria Berg, ed., Reading China: Fiction, History and the Dynamics of Discourse (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2006).
  • “Cold War culture” (with Patrick Major), in Saki Dockrill and Geraint Davies, ed., Palgrave Approaches to Cold War History (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2006).
  • “Educating citizens through war museums in modern China,” in Veronique Benei, ed., Manufacturing Citizenship: Education and Nationalism in Europe, South Asia, and China (London: Routledge, 2005)
  • “Manchuria in Mind: press, propaganda, and Northeast China in the age of empire, 1930-37,” in Mariko Asano Tamanoi, ed., Crossed Histories: A New Approach to Manchuria in the Age of Empire (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press and the Association for Asian Studies, 2005)
  • "Educating citizens through war museums in modern China", in Veronique Benei, ed, Manufacturing Citizenship: Education and nationalism in Europe, South Asia and China (London: Routledge, 2005)
  • “An uneasy engagement: Chinese ideas of global order and justice in historical perspective,” in Rosemary Foot, John Lewis Gaddis, and Andrew Hurrell, ed., Order and Justice in International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • “Evil empire?: Competing constructions of Japanese imperialism in Manchuria, 1928-1937,” in Li Narangoa and Robert Cribb, ed., Imperial Japan and National Identities in Asia, 1895-1945 (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003)

Further Info:

  • Winner, 2004 Philip Leverhulme Prize in History
  • Winner, 2007 Leverhulme Research Leadership Award: “China's War with Japan”
  • Media appearances include History Channel and BBC4 documentaries (The Samurai and the Swastika, Philosophy of the East, etc) for television; radio including Today, Thinking Allowed, Start the Week (BBC Radio 4), Brief Lives (BBC Radio 5 Live): presenter for Night Waves and The Sunday Feature (BBC Radio 3)
  • Reviews and essays in London Review of Books, Financial Times, History Today, New Internationalist, Times Higher Education Supplement

Other departmental weblinks: