Progress or Perish: Different Images of India in Late Qing China

Mar 10, 2020 | 12:00 PM

Zhang Ke (Associate Professor of History, Fudan University; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2019-20)
Chair/discussant: Arunabh Ghosh (Associate Professor of History, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored with the Asia Center and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute

China and India have long been culturally connected. However, the Chinese understanding of British India was rebuilt in the nineteenth century. There were two different discourses of India in late Qing China. One was created by the progressive British and American Protestant missionaries. They tried to convince the Chinese that the dissemination of Christianity and British governance had brought positive changes into India, namely improvements of social customs and political institutions, and their ideas were adopted by some Chinese intellectuals. The other emerged at the end of the late nineteenth century when the Chinese nation was in peril. By narrating the “perish” of India, Chinese intellectuals intended to learn the lesson of nations such as India and thought about their way out of failure. This presentation will argue that these two different discourses saw nineteenth century India respectively from the perspectives of colonialism and resistant nationalism; hence two very different Indias were made.