Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - Ambivalent States: China and India Conceptualize Each Other

Friday, July 6
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Amaltas, Lower Ground Floor

Much is often made of the differences between China and India. In truth, the two countries resemble each more than is often recognized. They are both territorially large, hugely populous, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-linguistic and multi-faith polities, each struggling repeatedly with its own fissional and centripetal forces, especially at the geographical periphery.


Historically, relations between these two countries have been problematic. Memories of the 1962 war have been unearthed by recent border conflicts, in which both sides have seemed eager to demonstrate intransigence. China and India hold long-standing official grudges against each other: the forced surrender of territory by India to China, and the presence in Dharamsala of the Dalai Lama are unhealed sores. But how do Chinese and Indian people view each other? We know little about this, and I will report a pilot study that seeks to illuminate the question. The participants in the study are educated young Chinese and Indians. The methodology employs questionnaires and focus groups, with the aim of establishing what the youth of each of these countries actually know about each other’s countries, and how they symmetrically or asymmetrically conceptualize them. The study also triangulates the China-India relationship by comparing conceptualizations by the same young Chinese and Indians of Britain, which historically played major roles as an imperialist power in relation to both countries, their socio-economic relations and shared border.

Chris Sinha

Hunan University, China

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