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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 22, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


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

Discussant: Jie Li, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University

Lecture 2 of 3: An Era of Emotion?

One factor that defines Chinese engagement with the world today is its highly emotional character, in terms of self-presentation that can move from saccharine to shrill at remarkable speed.  But emotion is not new – the use of the registers from exhilaration to depression defines the way that China, Japan and the Koreas have chosen to present themselves over the past century, whether through (often highly gendered) lenses of Asianism, revolution, martiality, discourses of “national humiliation,” or of global citizenship.  How much of this draws on emotional registers defined by modernity, and how much from a repertoire shaped by a culture with much longer roots?

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 three of this three-part lecture below:


March 22, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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