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Reischauer Lecture Series featuring Rana Mitter — New Eras, Old Stories: From May Fourth and Meiji to the Twenty-First Century “New Era” – Defining East Asia in the Age of Novelty, Emotion and Purpose

March 29, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Read the transcript of the event here.

Speaker: Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, St. Cross College, University of Oxford

Discussant: Arunabh Ghosh, Associate Professor of History, Harvard University

Lecture 3 of 3: A Sense of Purpose?

Some states have always maintained a sense that they have a mission in the world well beyond the maintenance of domestic order, the United States, France and Britain among them. Japan, China and the Koreas also inherited a strong sense of purpose in the modern era, from Meiji modernization to Mao’s “Three Worlds” and the Belt and Road Initiative, ideas drawing on the longer past – yet the definition of that purpose has been in constant flux. What defines East Asia’s sense of purpose today, can we speak of it in regional terms, and how does it relate to its long history of aspiration to be an intellectual and moral exemplar?

Rana Mitter is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, and a Fellow of St Cross College at the University of Oxford. He is the author of several books, including China’s War with Japan: The Struggle for Survival, 1937-1945 (Penguin, 2013), [US title: Forgotten Ally] which won the 2014 RUSI/Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature, and was named a Book of the Year in the Financial Times and Economist. His latest book is China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism (Harvard, 2020). His recent documentary on contemporary Chinese politics “Meanwhile in Beijing” is available on BBC Sounds.  He is co-author, with Sophia Gaston, of the report “Conceptualizing a  UK-China Engagement Strategy” (British Foreign Policy Group, 2020).  He won the 2020 Medlicott Medal for Service to History, awarded by the Historical Association.  He is a Fellow of the British Academy and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

The Annual Reischauer Lecture Series is co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Korea Institute, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and Harvard University Asia Center.

Listen to parts one and two of this three-part lecture below.


March 29, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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