Rana Mitter


Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, DPIR and Faculty of History
Fellow, St Cross College
International Relations Network
Government and Politics Network
St Cross College


I work on the emergence of nationalism in modern China, both in the early twentieth century and in the contemporary era. I am particularly interested in the impact of China's war with Japan in the 1930s and 1940s on the development of Chinese politics, society, and culture, and on the effects of the Chinese Civil War of 1946-9. I write frequently on contemporary Chinese politics in academic and generalist publications.


Modern Chinese politics and history

Media appearances include History Channel television documentaries (China's Forgotten War) and BBC radio appearances including Start the Week, Today, Free Thinking, Brief Lives, Thinking Allowed, and The Sunday Feature.


Course provider: PPE 227 -- Politics in China

Course provider: FS 26 (Modern History) -- China since 1900

Courses regularly taught:

PPE 227 Politics of China (undergraduate)

History Further Subject: China in War and Revolution (undergraduate)

History and Historiography of Modern China (graduate)

Regular annual graduate supervision:

10-12 DPhil, MPhil, MSc and MSt students across DPIR, History, OSGA, Oriental Studies

Rana Mitter



. "Chapter Five. ‘Life’ as they knew it: Du Zhongyuan’s editorial strategies for the Xinsheng (new life) weekly, 1934-35", , Jan. 2007, pp. 147-169. doi:10.1163/ej.9789004154834.i-323.34.
Mitter, RSR. "The War Years, 1937-1949", , Jun. 2016, pp. 150-177. doi:.
Mitter, R. "Nationalism, decolonization, geopolitics and the Asian post-war", , Apr. 2015, pp. 599-622. doi:10.1017/cho9781139626859.026.
Mitter, RSR. "British Diplomacy and Changing Views of Chinese Governmental Capability over the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945", , Dec. 2014, pp. 35-51. doi:.
Mitter, RSR. "Mao Zedong and Charismatic Maoism", , Mar. 2011, pp. 16-39. doi:.
Mitter, R. "China and the Cold War", , Jan. 2013, doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199236961.013.0008.
Mitter, R. "Nationalism in East Asia, 1839–1945", , Mar. 2013, doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199209194.013.0014.
Mitter, RSR. "Communism, Confucianism, and Charisma: the Political in Modern China", , Oct. 2012, pp. 60-69. doi:.
Mitter, R. "War and memory since 1945", , Sep. 2012, pp. 542-565. doi:10.1017/cho9781139021203.026.
Mitter, RSR. "Aesthetics, Modernity, and Trauma: Public Art and the Memory of War in Contemporary China", , doi:.
Mitter, RSR. "Maps, Minds and Visions: Chiang Kaishek, Mao Zedong and China’s Place in the World", , Jul. 2008, pp. 99-115. doi:.
Mitter, R. "Hegemony and Liberation: Mao Zedong and Zou Taofen in Early Twentieth-century China", , pp. 100-114. doi:10.1057/9780230592162_5.
Mitter, R. "Complicity, Repression, and Regionalism", Modern China, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 44-68. doi:10.1177/009770049902500102.
Major, P, Mitter, R. "Culture", , pp. 240-262. doi:10.1057/9780230502147_10.
Mitter, RSR. "Educating Citizens Through War Museums in Modern China", , Apr. 2007, pp. 129-142. doi:.
Mitter, RSR. "Manchuria in Mind: Press, Propaganda, and Northeast China in the Age of Empire, 1930-37", , pp. 25-52. doi:.
Mitter, R. "An Uneasy Engagement: Chinese Ideas of Global Order and Justice in Historical Perspective", , Feb. 2003, pp. 207-235. doi:10.1093/0199251207.003.0009.
Mitter, RSR. "Evil Empire?: Competing Constructions of Japanese Imperialism in Manchuria, 1928-1937", , pp. 146-168. doi:.
Mitter, R. "State-building after disaster: Jiang Tingfu and the reconstruction of post-World War II China, 1943-1949", Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 61, no. 1, Dec. 2018, pp. 176-206. doi:10.1017/S0010417518000531.
MITTER, R. "Mao Zedong", , doi:.
MITTER, R. "Identities and Alliances: China’s Place in the World after Pearl Harbor, 1941–1945", , Jul. 2019, doi:.
MITTER, R. "China's Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism", , Sep. 2020, doi:.
Mitter, R. "Relocation and dislocation: civilian, refugee, and military movement as factors in the disintegration of postwar China, 1945-49", Itinerario, doi:.
Mitter, R. "The perilous autumn of 1945: Chiang Ching-kuo between the local, the national and the global in the early Cold War", , Jan. 2022, doi:.
Mitter, R. "A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World", , May. 2005, doi:.
Mitter, RSR. "1911: The Unanchored Revolution", China Quarterly: an international journal for the study of China, vol. 208, pp. 1009-1022. doi:10.1017/S0305741011001123.
Mitter, RSR. "Classifying Citizens in Nationalist China during World War II, 1937-1945", Modern Asian Studies, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 243-276. doi:10.1017/S0026749X1100014X.
Mitter, RSR. "Picturing Victory: The Visual Imaginary of the War of Resistance, 1937–1947", European Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 167-192. doi:10.1163/156805808X372412.
Mitter, RSR. "Writing War: Autobiography, Modernity and Wartime Narrative in Nationalist China, 1937–1946", Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 18, pp. 187-210. doi:10.1017/S0080440108000704.
Mitter, RSR. "Maoism in the Cultural Revolution: A Political Religion?", , doi:.
Mitter, R. "Modern China: A Very Short Introduction", , Apr. 2008, doi:10.1093/actrade/9780198753704.001.0001.
Mitter, RSR. "The Enduring War: Experience, Legacy and Memory of the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-45", , doi:.
Mitter, RSR. "Imperialism, Transnationalism and the Reconstruction of Postwar China, 1944-6", Past and Present: A Journal of Historical Studies, vol. 218, no. suppl. 8, pp. 51-69. doi:10.1093/pastj/gts034.
Mitter, RSR. "China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival", , Jun. 2013, doi:.
Mitter, R. "Presentism and China’s changing wartime past", Past and Present, vol. 234, no. 1, Jan. 2017, pp. 263-274. doi:10.1093/pastj/gtw060.
Mitter, R. "Forgotten Ally China's World War II, 1937-1945", , Sep. 2013, doi:.
Mitter, R, Moore, AW. "China in World War II, 1937-1945: Experience, Memory, and Legacy", Modern Asian Studies, vol. 45, no. 2, Mar. 2011, pp. 225-240. doi:10.1017/S0026749X10000387.
Mitter, R. "The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Modern China", , Nov. 2000, doi:.
Major, P, Mitter, R. "Across the Blocs Cold War Cultural and Social History", , Feb. 2004, doi:.
Mitter, RSR. "Modern Asian Studies Special Issues", Modern Asian Studies, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 225-490. doi:10.1017/S0026749X10000387.
Mitter, R. "Changed by War: The Changing Historiography Of Wartime China and New Interpretations Of Modern Chinese History", The Chinese Historical Review: the journal of Chinese historians in the United States, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 85-95. doi:10.1179/tcr.2010.17.1.85.
Mitter, R. "Le massacre de Nankin", Vingtième Siècle. Revue d'histoire, vol. 94, no. 2, pp. 11-11. doi:10.3917/ving.094.0011.
MITTER, R. "MODERNITY, INTERNATIONALIZATION, AND WAR IN THE HISTORY OF MODERN CHINA", The Historical Journal, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 523-543. doi:10.1017/s0018246x05004498.
Major, P, Mitter, R. "East is East and West is West? Towards a comparative socio-cultural history of the Cold War", Cold War History, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1-22. doi:10.1080/14682740312331391714.
Mitter, R. "The Individual and the International ""I'': Zou Taofen and Changing Views of China's Place in the International System", Global Society, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 121-133. doi:10.1080/1360082032000069046.
Mitter, R. "Old Ghosts, New Memories: China's Changing War History in the Era of Post-Mao Politics", Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 117-131. doi:10.1177/0022009403038001967.
Mitter, R. "Contention and Redemption: Ideologies of National Salvation in Republican China", Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 44-74. doi:10.1080/714005487.
Mitter, R. "Behind the Scenes at the Museum: Nationalism, History and Memory in the Beijing War of Resistance Museum, 1987–1997", China Quarterly: an international journal for the study of China, vol. 161, pp. 279-293. doi:10.1017/S0305741000004033.


China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020), 316pp.

Winner: Most Accessible and Captivating Work for the Non-Specialist Reader Accolade at the ninth edition (2021) of the ICAS (International Convention on Asia Studies) Book Prize


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, the 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, updated 2016), 153pp.

            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, Romanian, Thai


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

“Relocation and dislocation: civilian, refugee, and military movement as factors in the disintegration of postwar China, 1945-49,” Itinerario (Spring 2022)

“The perilous autumn of 1945: Chiang Ching-kuo between the Global, the National, and the Local in the Early Cold War,”

Guoshiguan: Chiang Ching-kuo online presidential archive


 “State-building after Disaster: Jiang Tingfu and the Reconstruction of Post-World War II China, 1943-1949,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 61(1) (January 2019)

“Presentism and China’s Changing Wartime Past,” Past & Present (234:1) (February 2017)


“从战争到战后:史学与中国抗日战争遗产之评价” [From war to post-war:   historiography and the assessment of the legacy of China’s War of Resistance against Japan], Kangri zhanzheng yanjiu(2017:1)

With Gluck C., Armstrong C., “The seventieth anniversary of World War II’s end in Asia: Three Perspectives,” Journal of Asian Studies 74(3) (2015)

Imperialism, transnationalism and the reconstruction of post-war 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 Review17: 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 and Japan. (in French) Vingtime Sicle (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 Chinas 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 Religions3:3 (Winter 2002), pp. 44-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 History5 (Spring 1996), pp. 99-119.

Chapters in edited volumes

[Forthcoming]  “Seventy years of the Chinese global narrative: war, civilization and

infrastructure, 1947-2022,”

In Andrew Hurrell, John Ikenberry, Karoline Postel-Vinay, ed.,

Talking Worlds: Contested Narratives of Global Modernity and World Order (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023)

 “China in the Indian Ocean: The Search for a New Hegemon?,” in Harry Verhoeven and Anatol Lieven, Beyond Liberal Order: States, Societies and Markets in the Global Indian Ocean (New York: OUP 2021)


“Qing China and Ottoman Turkey:  Response and Decline, 1774-1937,” with Michael Reynolds, in Peter Fibiger Bang et al., ed., Oxford World History of Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020)


“Identities and Alliances: China’s Place in the World after Pearl Harbor, 1941–1945,” in Beth Bailey and David  Farber, ed., Beyond Pearl Harbor: A Pacific History (Lawrence KS: University of Kansas Press, 2019)


“China in the Second World War and Civil War,” in Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, ed., Oxford Illustrated History of China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)


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

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

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 Chinas 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-centuryChina, 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: Routledge Curzon, 2003)