Friday, November 1, 2013
From August 5 to August 15, 2013, the conference "Revisiting Modern China at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives" was conducted at Stanford University. Professor Rana Mitter spoke about "China's Wartime History and Contemporary East Asia" on August 5. Mitter is a professor of the history and politics of modern China and a fellow at Saint Cross College, University of Oxford.
Mitter discussed the importance of Hoover's modern China collections to shaping East Asian modernity, as well as the vital role Hoover's historical treasures have played in forming new connections between the past and present in China. Rana Mitter's forthcoming book, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-45, carefully researched and explored some of Hoover's unique collections, including the personal papers of Nym Wales and T.V. Soong, the personal diaries of Chiang Kai-shek, and the records of Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) to illuminate how the Sino-Japanese war helped create modern China and how the circumstances of that war made the concept of the nation, as well as personal identification with it, urgent and meaningful for the Chinese people. The ghosts of the war with Japan have still not been laid to rest in China, with Chinese leaders using the past as a stick with which to beat their neighbor. How China, now in a position of strength, will deal with its old enemy will be crucial to shaping the region in the twenty-first century. Mining Hoover's rich historical holdings, Mitter avers, will be an important step toward understanding the complex issues involved.