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:


Forgotten Ally: China’s War with Japan, 1937-45 (US title)

China’s War with Japan,  1937-45: The Struggle for Survival (UK title)

   (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; London: Allen Lane, 2013), xxi+458pp.

   Translations in Chinese (PRC), Chinese (Taiwan); forthcoming in Japanese, Korean

   Winner, RUSI/Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature, 2014 

   Shortlisted for the Bernard Schwartz Prize of the Asia Society of New York

   Named a Book of the Year in Financial Times, Economist, New Statesman, Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Telegraph

   Named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2014

   Named “Most Valuable Western Book on China” 2014

              Oriental Outlook (Dongfang liaowang zhoukan)

   Named one of eight Most Influential 2014 History Books in China (Xinhua)

Modern China: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008),


   Translations available or forthcoming: Italian, Portuguese,Turkish, Thai, Dutch

A Bitter Revolution: China’s struggle with the modern world, xix+357pp.

   (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, paperback 2005)

      Winner, Times Higher Education Supplement

      Young Academic Author of the Year 2005

   Proxime accessit (runner-up), Longman/History Today Book of the Year 2005

   Finalist, The British Academy Book Prize 2005

   Selected as a Foreign Affairs “must-read” Notable Book on China 2005

   Translations in Japanese, Polish, and Romanian

The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, resistance and collaboration in modern China

   (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000), xi+295pp.

   Honourable Mention, Gladstone Prize of the Royal Historical Society 2001

Books/special issues (as co-editor)

Ruptured Histories: War and Memory in Post-Cold War Asia (edited with Sheila Jager)

   (Cambridge, MA: 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)

Editor (with Matthew Hilton) of special supplementary edition of journal Past and Present on Transnationalism and Global History (May 2013)

Editor (with Helen Schneider) of special edition of journal European Journal of East Asian Studies on relief and rehabilitation in wartime China (December 2012)

Editor (with Aaron William Moore) of special edition of journal Modern Asian Studies on World War II in China (March 2011)

Journal articles

“Imperialism, transnationalism and the reconstruction of postwar China: UNRRA in China, 1944-7,” Past and Present (supplementary edition 2013).

“1911: The Unanchored Revolution,” The China Quarterly 208 (December 2011)

“Classifying Citizens in Nationalist China during World War II.”

   Modern Asian Studies 46: 2 (March 2011).

(with Aaron William Moore) “World War II in China: Experience, Legacy and Memory.” Modern Asian Studies 46: 2 (March 2011).

“Changed by war: The Changing Historiography of Wartime China and New Interpretations of Modern Chinese History.” 

   The Chinese Historical Review 17: 1 (2010).

“Writing war: Modernity, disaster and narrative strategies in wartime China, 1937-46.”

   Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (2008).

 “Picturing victory: the visual imaginary of the War of Resistance, 1937-47.”           

   European Journal of East Asian Studies 7:1 (2008).

“The Duty of Memory: The Nanjing Massacre, Memory and Forgetting in China andJapan.” (in French) 

   Vingtième Siècle (2007).

“Modernization, War and Internationalism in Modern Chinese History” (Historiographical Review). 

   The Historical Journal (June 2005), pp. 523-43.

“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.”

   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).

“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 

“China in the Second World War and Civil War,” in Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, ed.,

   Oxford Illustrated History of China (forthcoming, 2016)

 “Nationalism, decolonization, geopolitics and the Asian postwar,”

   in Evan Mawdsley et al., Cambridge History of the Second World War (forthcoming, 2015)

“British diplomacy and changing views of Chinese governmental capability over the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945,”

   In Hans J. van de Ven, Diana Lary, and Steven R. Mackinnon, Negotiating China's Destiny in World War II (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014)

“Mao Zedong,” in Ramachandra Guha, ed., Anticipations of the Asian Century

   (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).

“China and the Cold War,” in Richard Immerman and Petra Goedde, ed., Oxford Handbook of the Cold War

   (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

“Nationalism in East Asia, 1839-1945,” in John Breuilly, ed., Oxford Handbookof the History of Nationalism

   (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

“Communism, Confucianism, and charisma: the political in modern China,”in Michael Freeden and Andrew Vincent, ed., Comparative Political Thought: Theorizing Practices

   (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013).

“War and Memory since 1945,” in Roger Chickering, Denis Showalter, and Hans van de Ven, ed., Cambridge History of Warfare

   (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

“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)

“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: Manchuria in the Age of Empire

   (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press and the Association for Asian Studies, 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: