Mitter, Rana 1969-
Mitter, Rana 1969-
PERSONAL: Born 1969. Education: Cambridge University, M.A., Ph.D.
ADDRESSES: Office—Institute for Chinese Studies, University of Oxford, Walton St., Oxford OX1 2HG, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Author and educator. Oxford University, Oxford, England, junior lecturer in modern Chinese politics and society, 1996-98; University of Warwick, Warwick, England, lecturer in history, 1999-2000; university lecturer in history and politics of modern China and fellow of St. Cross College, 2001-.
AWARDS, HONORS: Philip Leverhulme Prize, 2004.
The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Modern China, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2000.
(Editor, with Patrick Major) Across the Blocs: Cold War Cultural and Social History, Frank Cass (Portland, OR), 2004.
Contributor to numerous scholarly journals, including Journal of Contemporary History, China Quarterly, and Global Society.
SIDELIGHTS: Rana Mitter serves as a university lecturer in the history and politics of modern China, and is a fellow of St. Cross College, Oxford. His research interests include the political and cultural history of twentieth century China, particularly the connections between nationalism and war in China from 1930 to the present day, the cold war, Sino-Japanese relations, and the Republican period (1912 to 1949). Mitter's writings include two volumes on China: The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Modern China and A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World.
The Manchurian Myth explores the repercussions of the Japanese military occupation of Manchuria in 1931. Mitter examines and analyzes how the occupation affected Chinese politics and ideology, and the long-term effects on the country's nationalism. In a review for the Canadian Journal of History, Emily M. Hill wrote that "Mitter's analysis illuminates a mythology of anti-Japanese resistance in Manchuria, reveals the reality behind the myth, and tracks political activists in their astute mediations between myth and reality." Journal of Contemporary Asia contributor Geoffrey C. Gunn observed that "having its origins as a Cambridge University dissertation, Mitter's work is impeccably researched from an array of Chinese (including Nanjing archives), Japanese, and other sources." He went on to comment that "all in all, Mitter's book should be of interest not only to a narrow cohort of historians of Manchuria but to students of Asian nationalism in general."
In A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World, Mitter looks at the May Fourth Movement of 1919, examining its role as the climax of the revolution of ideas that marked China's development in the early twentieth century. Peggy Spitzer, reviewing the work for Library Journal, commented that Mitter's book "tends to force political and cultural development in China into a rigid comparison with the ideals of May Fourth and the accompanying New Culture movement." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called Mitter's writing "a fascinating look at a pivotal time in the formation of the culture of modern China." Concluding in a review for Foreign Affairs, Lucian Pye said that the book has "more novel insights and findings than … most general histories of modern China, illustrating the complexity and intractability of the difficulties China has faced in its struggle with the modern world."
Mitter told CA: "The most surprising thing I have learned from being a writer is that you can never predict which parts of your books readers will like. The parts that reviewers and readers have mentioned to me are rarely the parts that I expected them to notice. So all you can do is to write the best book you can possibly manage, then send it out into the world and let it speak for itself.
"I have been most pleasurably surprised by the response to A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World, partly because I wrote it myself, to think through issues I felt were important, but for which I had no initial expectation of a wider audience.
"I hope that my books will continue to be a part of the process by which our understanding of China helps to make that country part of a wider, more peaceful global community."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Canadian Journal of History, April, 2003, Emily M. Hill, review of The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Modern China, p. 167.
Choice, October, 2004, J. Sochen, review of Across the Blocs: Cold War Cultural and Social History, p. 345.
Foreign Affairs, November/December, 2004, Lucian Pye, review of A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World.
History: Review of New Books, spring, 2001, Stephen Udry, review of The Manchurian Myth, p. 132.
Journal of Contemporary Asia, March, 2002, Geoffrey C. Gunn, review of The Manchurian Myth, p. 131.
Library Journal, July, 2004, Peggy Spitzer, review of A Bitter Revolution, p. 104.
Publishers Weekly, May 17, 2004, review of A Bitter Revolution, p. 46.
Oriental Studies Faculty at Oxford University Web site, http://www.orinst.ox.ac.uk/ (November 12, 2004), "Rana Mitter."