RAS Book Club

RAS Library

A BITTER REVOLUTION: CHINA’S STRUGGLE WITH THE MODERN WORLD

Discussion Leader: Raymond Kolter

In A Bitter Revolution, a powerful new look at modern China, Rana Mitter goes back to a pivotal moment in Chinese history to uncover the origins of the painful transition from pre-modern to modern. Mitter identifies May 4, 1919, as the defining moment of China’s twentieth-century history. On that day, outrage over the Paris Peace Conference triggered a vast student protest that led in turn to “the May Fourth Movement”. Just seven years before, the 2,000-year-old imperial system had collapsed. Now a new group of urban, modernizing thinkers began to reject Confucianism and traditional culture in general as hindrances in the fight against imperialism, warlordism, and the oppression of women and the poor. Forward-looking, individualistic, and embracing youth, this “New Culture movement” made a lasting impact on the critical decades that followed. Throughout each of the dramatically different eras that followed, the May 4 themes persisted, from the insanity of the Cultural Revolution to China’s recent romance with space-age technology.

Rana Mitter is Lecturer in the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St. Cross College. In addition to many books and journal articles, Mitter has contributed to documentaries on the History Channel and is involved in a forthcoming documentary on Kublai Khan.

Discussion will be led by Raymond Kolter— professor of international relations at Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) and scholar of Chinese politics and diplomacy at Fudan University

Please note that this is a book discussion; the author will not be present.

Dress code for all events in the RAS library is “business casual”; please no shorts or flip-flops.

RSVP: bookevents@royalasiaticsociety.org.cn

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