Anti-imperialist Loyalties in the Interwar and the Cold War Years, Part 2: The Afro-Asian and Third World Moment

AHA Session 47
World History Association 2
Thursday, January 3, 2019: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Marshfield Room (Palmer House Hilton, Third Floor)
Heather Streets-Salter, Northeastern University

Session Abstract

This second session focuses on anti-imperialist loyalties during the interlinked processes of decolonization and the early Cold War. Bringing together studies of Afro-Asianism and Third Worldism, the papers highlight different modes of international loyalty and solidarity in this period. The papers map the contested and non-linear trajectory of the relationship between the local, the national, and the international. Contributors seek to complicate existing narratives of third world or Afro-Asian solidarity by underscoring the limited analytical value of ‘non-alignment’ and related concepts, in order to bring a fuller picture of this period’s anti-imperialist solidarities into view.

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, Paper 1 seeks to bring those horizontal connections to light. This paper argues that the ‘Afro-Asian Moment’ during decolonization and the early Cold War was a moment driven by a more widespread mentality of internationalism than is currently acknowledged in historiography. Using the Indian trade union movement as an example, this paper investigates this form of ‘subaltern internationalism.

Paper 2 explores the challenges that elites in Asia, Africa, and Latin America faced to translate the rhetoric of Third World solidarity into state policy at the high point of decolonization. While Third World representation increased rapidly within the UN General Assembly, the Third World project extended well beyond the GA as the countries of the Global South cooperated, successfully, to steadily increase their representation in the various bureaucracies of the wider United Nations system. This paper examines how the post-colonial approach to international politics found its expression in new organizations that excluded the great powers, while addressing the dilemma that existed within the Third World project to reconcile the subversive nature of national liberation movements with the new institutional constellation.

Paper 3 uses the lens of anti-imperial internationalisms to chart the political, social, and cultural debates between ideologically opposed camps in Pakistan during the 1950s and 60s. These debates, which sought to determine the future trajectory of the nascent nation-state, were centered on geo-political alignments, cultural linkages, and most importantly, the place of the 'Third World' in Pakistan. This paper argues that these alignments, together with the question of Afro-Asian solidarities - manifested most powerfully in international conferences, student politics, intellectual concerns, translated works, poems, novels, and travelogues etc – formed the basis of cultural and political contestations in Pakistan.