Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Civilizational Bonhomie and Nationalism’s Anxieties: Sino-Indian Discourse in Kang Youwei and Gadadhar Singh’s Writings

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Silveroak I, Ground Floor

The paper looks primarily at two travel writings of the early twentieth century, one by Kang Youwei (1858-1927) on India and the other by Gadadhar Singh (1869-1920) on China, to explore inter-cultural encounters and the construction of knowledge in China and India about each other. These narratives are based on Kang’s travel to India for fifteen months during 1901-1903 as an “intellectual fugitive” after the failure of the Hundred Days’ Reform, and Singh’s travel to China during 1900-1901 for thirteen months as part of the British Indian Army to suppress the Boxer Rebellion. They are among the first significant written sources to shed light on changing Sino-Indian discourse in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as both countries were confronted with an external threat. Travel writings are “subaltern” writings in the sense that they are written for a particular audience, in a set time frame, and are tailored for acceptance and resonance at home. As such, they facilitate drawing images about each other and enrich our comprehension of both historical similarities (“connectedness” and convergence) on the one hand, and differences (“detachment” and divergence) on the other. Did modern Sino-Indian discourses promote “natural affinities” or “conflict” between the two countries during the period of intense engagement with the West? In this context, the paper addresses a broad range of issues of the shift from empire to nation-state, civilization, pan-Asianism, nationalism and modernity.

Kamal Sheel

BJK Institute of Buddhist & Asian Studies, India

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1 - Civilizational Bonhomie and Nationalism’s Anxieties: Sino-Indian Discourse in Kang Youwei and Gadadhar Singh’s Writings



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