Modern South Asian Studies Seminar: HT20: Week 3: Arms, Arts and Agriculture: Indo-Mexican Intellectual Connections in the Early Twentieth Century

Conveners: Imre Bangha, Nayanika Mathur, Matthew McCartney, Polly O’Hanlon, Kate Sullivan de Estrada, and David Washbrook

Speaker: Jesús F. Cháirez-Garza

This paper explores a largely unknown intellectual and political connection between India and Mexico in the early twentieth century. First, I look at the life of Pandurang Khankhoje, an India revolutionairy that settled in Mexico in 1924. Second, and in order to fully comprehend Khankhoje’s arrival to Mexico, I analyse the political thought of José Vasconcelos and the influence that some aspects of Indian philosophy and culture had on his vision of a Mexican nation of the future. Vasconcelos nourished a cultural environment that would facilitate the inclusion Khankhoje into a small group of influential politicians and artists of the likes of Diego Rivera and Tina Modotti. This group not only shaped the culture of Mexico’s post-revolutionary years, it would also imagine an alternative vision of the world in which south to south cooperation could challenge the intellectual and cultural dominance of the ‘West’.


Dr Jesús F. Cháirez-Garza is a Lecturer in the History of Race and Ethnicity at the University of Manchester. From 2015 to 2018, Jesus was a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Leeds where he researched the history of political ideas in the Global South, particularly in Mexico and India. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Cambridge. His dissertation focused on the political life of Dr B.R. Ambedkar and the concept of untouchability as a political category. Currently, Jesús is working on an AHRC project that investigates that history of anthropology in India.

All are welcome.