Organized Panel Session
This panel argues that, as decolonization swept the globe during the mid-twentieth century, newly independent peoples and states formulated radical visions not just of their own societies, but of how these societies would interact with one another. Beginning in China and Cambodia, the presenters demonstrate how state and non-state actors across Asia developed new conceptions of a wide range of themes, such as peace and feminism, and travelled great distances to debate the possibilities of socialist, anti-imperialist politics in and between Third World countries. Forster analyzes China’s involvement in the World Peace Council’s 1950 campaign against nuclear weapons, whereas Zeller explores the limitations of anti-imperialism as an international politics and China’s joint efforts with sympathetic countries to radicalize the Afro-Asian solidarity movement (1955-1965) toward socialism. In Cambodia, Miller examines the Khmer Women’s Association’s participation in international conferences and diplomatic affairs, and the impact this had on gendering domestic state-building efforts under the government of Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Galway explores the foundations of Cambodian Maoism through a genealogy of one its earliest thinkers, Phouk Chhay, who discovered Maoism on a trip to China in 1965 and used it to criticize the Cambodian state in both his 1966 dissertation and later political organizing. This panel’s goal is ultimately to shed overdue light on the centrality of transnational connections within the decolonized world, and to promote a new understanding of the Cold War on scales ranging from the diplomatic to the individual.