Larissa Pitts is an assistant professor in the Department of History. Though she specializes in the history of Modern China, she also teaches courses in East and Southeast Asian History, as well as world history. Prof. Pitts’ classes ask students to engage with the world from the perspective of East and Southeast Asians in order to think critically about the world that was created in the twentieth century. She pays particular attention to the histories of colonialism, nationalism, communism, and the environment in her teaching.
Prof. Pitts’ current research focuses on the history of Arbor Day in Republican China (1911 – 1949). She argues that Republican governments invented their own versions of modern environmentalism centered around Arbor Day tree-planting projects. This modern Chinese environmentalism was used in an attempt to solidify political authority, improve China’s image abroad, as well as resolve ecological and timber supply crises.