To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
In Session: Revisiting Imperialism in Asia: New Perspectives and Approaches
4: Afro-Asian Anti-Imperialism and the Peace Movement in Early Cold War India
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Leiden University, United States
In April 1960, Indian peace activists travelled to Conakry, Guinea, to join hundreds of fellow activists to discuss the future of the decolonizing world at the second conference of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO). This event had important predecessors in the 1955 Conference of Asian Countries on the Relaxation of International Tensions in New Delhi, and the 1957 AAPSO conference in Cairo. Each was supported by the Soviet-dominated World Peace Council (WPC) but attended by anticolonial activists representing a wide ideological spectrum. Leaders from the WPC-affiliated All-India Peace Council, who had organized the Delhi conference in 1955, continued to serve on the AAPSO board in order to organize further Afro-Asian conferences. In 1962, the World Peace Council was joined by the World Peace Brigade (WPB), which likewise included Indian peace workers, notablyJayaprakash Narayan and Devi Prasad. Here too, the movement had strong Afro-Asian overtones as well as influential sponsors from across the Afro-Asian world, such as Julius Nyerere of (then) Tanganyika and Kenneth Kaunda, future president of Zambia. At first glance, the two organizations were nothing alike. One largely looked towards Moscow and viewed war as a consequence of capitalism; the other advocated non-violent action based on Quaker and Gandhian thought. However, the belief that Afro-Asian countries faced common challenges of (neo-)imperialism and global inequality drove both organizations. Through the peace work of influential Indian activists in both the WPC and WPB, the struggle to form a united anti-imperialist global peace movement is rendered visible.