Professor Rana Mitter

Professor Rana Mitter, OBE

Professor of Modern History and Politics of China at The Harvard Kennedy School; Emeritus Fellow


I work on the emergence of nationalism in modern China, both in the early twentieth century and in the present era. China has always drawn on its past to draw lessons for the contemporary political scene; I believe that to help us understand the new China, we must look at its past.

I am former Director of the University China Centre. I am the author of several books, including Modern China: A Very Short Introduction (2008, new ed. 2016), and the award-winning A Bitter Revolution: China’s Struggle with the Modern World (2004).  China’s War with Japan, 1937-45: The Struggle for Survival (US title: Forgotten Ally) was named as a 2013 Book of the Year in the Financial Times and the Economist, was named a 2014 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, and won the 2014 RUSI/Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature. I recently published China’s Good War: How World War II is Creating a New Nationalism (2020), and won the 2020 Medlicott Medal from the Historical Association for Service to History.  

I present and and contribute regularly to programmes on television and radio, commenting on contemporary Chinese politics and society. I am a regular presenter for BBC Radio in the UK. My television documentary “The Longest War: China’s World War II” was broadcast on the History Channel Asia in summer 2015.  My reviews and essays have appeared in newspapers including the Financial Times, International New York Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Caijing, and Outlook (India).



Work related to COVID-19

As a scholar of modern Chinese politics and history, Professor Mitter has written and spken about the Chinese government's response to the outbreak of COVID-19. Updates on his research will be posted here.