In this talk Prof Arunabh Ghosh argues for a reorientation of post-1949 Sino-Indian history, a subfield still dominated by geopolitics and a focus on the causes, course, and legacy of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. Operating on the triple axes of Comparison (of two distinct political experiments and observers’ perceptions of their prospects), Competition (not over territory, but over cultural influence in places like Southeast Asia), and Contact (particularly in the scientific and cultural realms), Prof Ghosh posits that we remain remarkably ignorant about Sino-Indian history of the 1950s. A fundamental reappraisal of the decade, beginning with the rediscovery of long forgotten episodes and exchanges, has the potential to contribute not only to histories of India and China but to also offer fresh perspectives on the early years of the Cold War.
Arunabh Ghosh has recently joined the History Department of the Harvard University as Assistant Professor in modern Chinese history. Trained at Haverford College and at Tsinghua and Columbia universities, Ghosh’s interests span the social, economic, and intellectual history of the People’s Republic of China (PRC, 1949 - ), transnational histories of science and statecraft, and Sino-Indian history. He joined the History Department from the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, where he was an Academy Scholar for the 2014-15 academic year. Ghosh’s current work investigates how the early PRC state built statistical capacity to know the nation through numbers. He has conducted research for this project in Beijing, Guangzhou, New Delhi, and Kolkata, and his work has been supported by grants from the Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Social Science Research Council. He is additionally interested in applying digital methods, in particular text mining and bibliometric analysis, to the study of the early People’s Republic.