A Communal Affair over International Affairs: the arrival of IR in Late Colonial India

Vineet Thakur, Alexander Davis

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This paper makes an archival journey into the making of institutes of international affairs in late colonial India. By exploring the intertwined lives of two such institutions, it unearths an ideational fight over the study of international affairs in India between the Indian Institute of International Affairs (IIIA), established in 1936, and the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), started in 1943. From the outset, the IIIA was strongly pro-government and saw the ICWA as an institutional rival and a propaganda front for the Indian National Congress (INC). Closer to Independence, the two institutes were increasingly divided along communal and nationalist political lines. The IIIA's leadership became dominated by Muslims and the Muslim League and the ICWA by Brahman Hindus and the INC. As a result, a battle for legitimacy and recognition ensued over participation in international conferences and the ability to publish meaningful research. The ICWA successfully organised the Asian Relations Conference in March 1947, which sealed the fate of the IIIA. It moved to Pakistan in the wake of Partition, then quietly closed down after co-existing briefly with the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-705
Number of pages17
JournalSouth Asia : Journal of South Asian Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


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