The Second World War in China was the single most wrenching event in modern Chinese history. The conflict is often termed the second Sino-Japanese War, and known in China as the War of Resistance to Japan. There are arguments that the conflict began with the invasion of Manchuria in 1931, but between 1937 and 1945, China and Japan were at total war. When Japan was finally defeated in 1945, China was on the winning side, but lay devastated, having suffered some 15 million deaths, massive destruction of industrial infrastructure and agricultural production, and the shattering of the tentative modernization begun by the Nationalist government.
This research group was based on a concept grounded in the discipline of history, but with rich implications for our understanding of postwar and contemporary China – that China’s conflict with Japan in the mid-twentieth century must be brought to the forefront of our understanding of the wider path of Chinese modernity, and that to do so will bring about significant new historical and political insights, not only for the academic world, but also for the wider public understanding of China, a major commercial and diplomatic power in the twenty-first century.
In spring 2007, the Leverhulme Trust generously awarded a major grant to this project under its Research Leadership Award Scheme. Over the period 2007-12, a dedicated research programme involving postdoctoral Research Associates, doctoral students, and research assistants worked on publications, fieldwork, and international collaborations including conferences and workshops. The programme was directed by Rana Mitter (Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China).
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