Organized Panel Session
Bridging the much disparate fields of Chinese and South Asian studies, this panel examines heretofore neglected trans-Himalayan interactions between Colonial South Asia and Qing China, with a focus on the geopolitical realm. While the earlier phases of China-South Asia interactions have received due scholarly attention, the exchanges between the two regions between the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries are still under-researched. Despite some recent studies, the persisting perception is that of “a colonial phase of forced separation,” i.e., the view that European colonialism severed the connections between the two regions until Rabindranath Tagore’s 1924 visit to China. This panel aims to subvert such misbelief by demonstrating that China and South Asia were deeply connected during this period especially in the realm of political thought and practice. The papers are empirically grounded in various sites of interactions (Calcutta, Nepal, Burma, Delhi, and Beijing) and historical stages. Sen discusses Warren Hastings’ initiatives of establishing new overland and maritime linkages between Bengal and Qing China. Lin examines Qing China’s diplomacy in the trans-Himalayan region during the war against Nepal in the 1790s, with Tibet as an intermediary. Li uncovers the British Indian and Chinese espionage activities along the Sino-Burma border in the 1880s. Cao analyzes the connections between Indian and Chinese political terrorisms in the 1900s. This panel will contribute to critically understanding the colonial agency and context to trans-regional connectivities, as well as the analysis of the historiographical issues involved during this unique phase of China and South Asia interactions.