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 are a detailed record of the process 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 we bring a new, interdisciplinary approach to the study of the historical materials. The participants of this roundtable offer multiple perspectives, such as history, literature, film, and political science, and thus analyze the 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, Krista Van Fleit looks for gendered voices in the Papers, discussing how the participation of women, both prominent politicians and also wives and daughters of diplomats, troubles the narrative of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai, or Indian Chinese Brotherhood, in the 1950s. 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.