This paper argues that this ‘Afro-Asian Moment’ during decolonization and the early Cold War was not a pastime for highly educated Indian leftists, but a moment driven by a more widespread mentality of internationalism than is currently acknowledged in historiography. A unique feature of this broad-based Afro-Asianism in India was that local organizers, too, ended up at international Afro-Asian manifestations. This bridging of local and international communities, often bypassing the national level altogether, has not been researched. Using the Indian trade union movement as an example, this paper investigates this form of ‘subaltern internationalism’. It was at the level of workers’ organization and workers’ rights that the imbalance between ‘Euro-America’ and the decolonizing world was most acutely felt. In the 1950s, trade unionism therefore became a major avenue toward Afro-Asian cooperation. The Soviet-directed ‘Red International’ is typically credited with fostering such connections, and it is insufficiently recognized that this happened in more horizontal ways as well. Asking what regionalist aspirations caused organizations and individuals to jump scale and leapfrog the national in favor of an intercontinental platform, and why Afro-Asia was chosen as a unit of solidarity, this paper seeks to bring those horizontal connections to light.
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