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The Asian Relations Conference of 1947: Pan-Asian Ambitions and Limitations

Authors: Priscilla Roberts*, City University of Macau
Topics: Asia, Cultural Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: Pan-Asianism, Asian Relations Conference, Indian Council of World Affairs, Institute of Pacific Relations, Bandung Conference
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Asian Relations Conference, held in Delhi from March 23 to April 3, 1947, was a spectacular affirmation of the rising consciousness among Asians that they wished to control their own destinies. Organized by the Indian Council on World Affairs (ICWA) and hosted by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who addressed the opening session and also persuaded Mahatma Gandhi to speak, the gathering attracted global attention and international press coverage. British, Canadian, Australian, and US diplomats and observers all reported in depth to their own governments on the event, evidence of the significance contemporaries accorded it. Lord Mountbatten, the newly arrived British viceroy of India, hosted a reception for all the participants. For several decades, the conference was largely forgotten, but in recent years, ICWA and scholars alike have rediscovered this occasion. It has been considered and sometimes celebrated as a precursor to the 1955 Afro-Asian Bandung Conference. This paper, based on a wide range of sources, explores both the accomplishments and the limitations of the Asian Relations Conference, and their implications for broader Pan-Asian initiatives.

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