Session Abstract: What was imperialism’s ultimate impact on Asian society? Recent work on imperialism’s impact has centered on features of nationalism, especially in critiquing the self-orientalism of nationalist elites. While the heterogeneity of imperialism’s influence on the metropole across different times and spaces has been well documented, examinations of imperialism from the colonies’ point of view remain constrained by the nation-state. Correspondingly, this panel proposes to examine imperialism's multivalences transnationally. Acknowledging the contingency of the nation-state, we illustrate the ways in which imperial encounters prompted Asian elites and the subaltern alike to envision different temporalities and political possibilities while also (critically) accepting certain assumptions of modernity, from the heights of empire to the era of decolonization. Our papers include analyses of Fillipino constructions of Pan-Asianism, the embrace of a global discourse of race-science in GMD-era China, Asianist visions of solidarity amongst peace activists in India and China in the 1950s, and the struggle of Indian peace activists to form a united anti-imperialist front in the 1960s. This multifaceted approach allows us to highlight imperialism’s different manifestations throughout the region while showcasing the similarly transnational character of the responses to it. Together, these papers argue that what has been referred to as ‘contradictions’ or ‘unevenness’ in the embrace of colonial and post-colonial ‘development’ and ‘modernization’ were not the result of an incomplete imitation of colonial discourse leading to a derivative modernity. Rather, this ‘unevenness’ was the product of the varied responses to imperial domination and imagining the possible futures that would follow it.
Paper Presenter: Yasser A. Nasser – University of Chicago
Paper Presenter: Matthew Foreman – Northwestern University
Paper Presenter: Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz – University of Cambridge
Paper Presenter: Carolien Stolte – Leiden University