In the fifteenth episode, I speak to Ali Raza, Historian at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) on his recent book Revolutionary Pasts: Communist Internationalism in Colonial India published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. The book maps and reveals the stories of individuals in Colonial India - dissidents, migrant workers, students and peasants, who through various networks tried to make the world more egalitarian during a tumultuous interwar period. Shaped by utopian ideas of communist internationalism, these Indian revolutionaries wished to precipitate a global upheaval that could radically transform India. The conversation begins by unpacking South Asia’s contribution to the global history of communist internationalism and why scholars have resisted from excavating genealogies and experiences of leftist and communist politics in the subcontinent. Next, the discussion moves to understand why communism and dreams of a communist future proved attractive to individuals in Colonial India before exploring how these individuals understood and placed their actions relative to other dominant political projects like capitalism and colonialism. Raza then shares the story of one remarkable individual engaged in revolutionary activities globally - Ameer Haider Khan or ‘Dada’. The conversation ends by considering whether conditions are ripe for individuals across South Asia to envision and work toward an alternate, more revolutionary, future to address the challenges of the current post-colonial moment.
Revolutionary Pasts: Communist Internationalism in Colonial India