March 2024

6:00 PM - 7:30 PM IST

Online Via Zoom


When Culture meets State Diplomacy: the Case of Cheena Bhavana

South Asia in the South China Sea
Brian Tsui | Speaker at Ahmedabad University

Brian Tsui

Associate Professor
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Focusing on the India-based Chinese scholar Tan Yunshan and the institution he found, Cheena Bhavana, I explore how Tan’s apparently apolitical pan-Asian cultural position lent and accommodated itself to Nationalist China’s diplomatic priorities and the anticolonial aspirations shared between the Indian freedom movement and China’s ruling party in the second quarter of the twentieth century. As the Chinese state became the main source of income for Tan’s enterprise, cultural and academic activities could not but become enmeshed in manoeuvres of governments, activists and bureaucrats, in spite of Cheena Bhavana’s professed aloofness from politics. In a time when nation-states, revolutionary fervour, and anticolonial activism took centre stage across China and India, the idea that connections between the two societies could remain purely ‘cultural’ became untenable.

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Brian Tsui

Brian Tsui teaches at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. A historian by training, he is interested in Chinese revolutionary politics, ideologies of the radical right and China’s inter-Asia relations. He is the author of China’s Conservative Revolution: The Quest for a New Order, 1927–1949 (Cambridge, 2018) and edited, with Tansen Sen, Beyond Pan-Asianism: Connecting China and Asia, 1840s–1960s. The talk is based on a chapter he contributed to the edited volume. He is currently studying how “New China” inspired intellectuals and activists from Britain and its empire in Asia to imagine a decolonial world beyond Cold War dichotomies.