Session Abstract: Anticolonial movements are seldom driven by nationalism only: they often rely on and inspire internationalist solidarities beyond colonial boundaries. This panel explores multiple expressions of internationalism and the tensions between nationalisms and internationalisms in anticolonial movements across Asia: Hong Kong, Burma, Singapore, the Philippines, and India. Kong shows how from the 1920s to 1930s the middle-class residents in British Hong Kong rejected the anticolonial nationalism spread from China, and instead embraced internationalist ideals to challenge colonial hierarchies of political participation. Bowser demonstrates the contestation in Burma between internationalism inspired by Chinese, Japanese, and Indian anticolonialists on one hand, and Burmese fascism supported by the British colonial regime on the other, to show how the British government’s suppression of internationalism in the late 1930s and early 1940s led Burma to a path of extreme nationalism and isolationism. Lee examines how in the Second World War, the Indian Independence League based in Singapore mobilized the Indian communities in Southeast Asia against the British Empire by containing the tension between Indian nationalism and aggressive Japanese Pan-Asianism. Reeves analyzes how diplomats of newly independent nation-states—V.K. Krishna Menon of India and Carlos Romulo of the Philippines—used the Delhi Conference in 1949 to pursue the “One World” ambitions of the United Nations and strengthen nascent “Third World” solidarity. Exploring the intersection of anticolonialism and internationalism through multi-sited approaches, the panel sheds new light on the transnational movement of political ideas and actors that shaped the development of colonial and postcolonial states in Asia.
Paper Presenter: Vivian Kong – University of Bristol
Paper Presenter: Matthew J. Bowser – Northeastern University
Paper Presenter: Zardas Lee – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Paper Presenter: Mark Reeves – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill