Conveying Atmosphere: Weather, Failure, and the Archive of the Round Table Conference

Authors: Stephen Legg*, University of Nottingham
Topics: Historical Geography, Cultural Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Senses, Politics, Atmosphere, Colonialism, Imperialism, Conference
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Studio 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


During 1930-32 over 150 Indian delegates visited London to debate India’s constitutional future over the three sittings of the Round Table Conference. The creation and conveyance of a conference “atmosphere” was central to the event, and its archive, in three ways. One of the key challenges for the conference organisers was to create an atmosphere conducive to political debate. For some, this meant an atmosphere of cordiality and cosmopolitanism, for others it meant fostering the atmosphere of growing hostility between Hindus and Muslims. Second, the atmosphere of London impacted upon the conference in a material and aerial sense. Taking place in late autumn each year London was often cloaked in dense fog with which the organisers feared Indians would be unable to cope. Finally, attendees struggled to convey in their correspondence and coverage of the conference the atmosphere that had been created (often one of futility and imminent failure), and to explain how it often made delegates respond in unanticipated ways. These three takes on the conference attest to the significance of place in international relations, and to the sensory politics of conferences and the cities in which they take place.

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