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historian , university professor

Frank Dikötter, Dutch historian. Board directors Contemporary China Institute; Member Association for Asian Studies, British Association for Chinese Studies (president since 1999).


Dikötter, Frank was born on November 30, 1961 in Geleen, The Netherlands. Arrived in England, 1985.


Bachelor, University Geneva, Switzerland, 1984. Master of Arts, University Geneva, Switzerland, 1985. Doctor of Philosophy, University London, 1990.


Dikötter is chair professor of humanities at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses on both Mao Zedong and the Great Chinese Famine. He was formerly a professor of the modern history of China from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Dikötter's work has been described as 'Boldly and engagingly revisionist' by Pankaj Mishra.

This led to a public dispute between Dikötter and Mishra. Dikötter claimed the impact of prohibition of opium on the Chinese people led to greater harm than the effects of the drug itself in Narcotic Culture and Patient Zero. These works have been poorly received by academics, with Chinese historian Kathleen L. Lodwick saying\r\n Narcotic Culture appears to be one of the revisionist histories of which there have been several lately that have aimed at convincing us that imperialism wasn’t all that bad, or at least that we should not blame the imperialists, in this case the opium traders who made vast fortunes from the trade, for the social problems they created.

Closer attention to accuracy in the bibliography would have caught some errors, which appear more than once and so are not simply typos. He called for the rehabilitation of the history of Republican China between 1912 and 1949 in The Age of Openness. His most recent books Mao's Great Famine and The Tragedy of Liberation deal with the early years of the People's Republic of China and specifically the terror and famine associated with it.


  • 2011: Samuel Johnson Prize for Mao's Great Famine.



Board directors Contemporary China Institute. Member Association for Asian Studies, British Association for Chinese Studies (president since 1999).