Internationalism, identity, and ideology in the shaping of postwar China



A Kite Flies Against the Wind: Internationalism, identity, and ideology in the shaping of postwar China, and the legacy for today

The postwar period saw China debate many issues that still have immense importance for understanding the China of today. Those years contain the period of the Chinese civil war of 1946-50, but also much more than that. China moved into a new phase of internationalization, and became embroiled in some of the biggest global debates about the links between economic and social development. It was also a time when ideological concerns were to the forefront. There were huge debates in China in those years about democracy and constitutionalism, as well as what a powerful new political force emerging in the countryside might mean. Meanwhile, new ideas about the interaction of gender and class fuelled debates over identity. In this lecture, I will look in detail at the thinking of Chinese Government ministers, idealistic revolutionaries, and other groups who shaped postwar China – and suggest that those debates have come back to haunt their 21st-century successors.

Rana Mitter is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, and was the founding Director of the University’s Dickson Poon China Centre. His research focuses on the emergence of nationalism in modern China, both in the early twentieth century and in the present era. He is the author of several books, including Modern China: A Very Short Introduction (2008, new ed. 2016); A Bitter Revolution: China’s Struggle with the Modern World (2004); and China’s War with Japan, 1937-45: The Struggle for Survival, which 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. His most recent book is China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism (2020), which explains why World War II in China matters so much for its politics and society in the twenty-first century. Rana presents and contributes regularly to programmes on television and radio, commenting on contemporary Chinese politics and society. His television documentary “The Longest War: China’s World War II” was broadcast on the History Channel Asia in summer 2015. In 2023 he will take up the ST Lee Chair in US-China Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School.

About the George E. Morrison Lecture series
The George Ernest Morrison Lecture series was founded by Chinese residents in Australia and others in honour of the late Dr G. E. Morrison (1862–1920), a native of Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

The objective of the foundation of the lectureship was to honour for all time the memory of a great Australian who rendered valuable services to China and to improve cultural relations between China and Australia. The annual Morrison Lecture is organised by a committee of ANU colleagues from the ANU College of Asia & the Pacific.

The George E. Morrison Lecture Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World.


Professor Rana Mitter OBE FBA

Dates & times

Thursday, 3 November 2022

7.00pm - 8.30pm



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