China and Inner Asia
This roundtable focuses on newly available archival materials pertaining to China from within the post-1947 Jawaharlal Nehru Papers. The Papers are a repository of all the materials that passed through Nehru’s office, including telegrams, meeting minutes, memoranda, reports, correspondence, and much else. They provide a detailed record of decolonization and the formation of two new countries on both sides of the Himalayas. Examination of materials from the Indian archive invites a new “South-South” perspective on the birth of the People’s Republic of China, and collectively the participants bring a new, interdisciplinary approach to the study of the historical materials. The participants in this roundtable offer multiple perspectives, such as history, literature, film, and political science, and thus analyzethe archive in a way that exceeds the international relations framework that has traditionally structured the study of China and India in the twentieth century.
Each of the participants of the roundtable will present briefly on how they are using the Papers. Cao Yin uses the Nehru Papers to explore how Burma’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China in December 1949 was influenced by India. Adhira Mangalagiri discusses the inner workings of China-India cultural diplomacy in its early years (1948-1952), highlighting how circuits, infrastructures, and templates of state-sponsored cultural exchange developed prior to the well-oiled mechanisms of China-India “friendship” of the mid-1950s. Yuan He reframes the 1950-51 Indian famine through positioning it as a watershed moment for the economic relationship between New China and India. Zhang Ke investigates KPS Menon and KM Panikkar's Northwest China trips and their observations of China's social transformation. Finally, Gal Gvili examines documents pertaining to women’s delegations travelling between China and India, in order to discuss how the two countries compared their progress toward resolving “the woman question” and why this comparative perspective assumed by the two governments compels us to reframe our understanding of gender dynamics in Mao’s China. The roundtable will be chaired by Tansen Sen, who will offer his perspective on how research projects from this archive contribute to the emerging China India field.