SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Jia, Yan (2019) Beyond the “Bhai-Bhai” Rhetoric : China-India Literary Relations, 1950-1990. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Download (4MB)


This thesis examines the multi-layered relationship between the literary spheres of the People’s Republic of China (1949-) and the Republic of India (1947-) from the 1950s to the 1980s. Drawing on previously underexplored materials in Chinese, Hindi, and English, this thesis focuses on a range of writerly, textual, and readerly contacts — three aspects of what, following Karen Thornber (2009), I call “literary relations” — between the two newly established Asian nation-states. Considering literary relations as inextricable from political relations, I argue that China and India embarked on similar and related paths since 1950, but in order to understand these relations we need to keep multiple frames in mind: of each country’s national culture and foreign policy; of bilateral relations; and of broader leftist internationalism, the anti-imperialist Third World solidarity movement, and Cold War world politics. Specifically, I identify and analyse five different yet overlapping trajectories that tied modern Chinese and Indian literatures together: first, a bilateral mechanism of writerly contact intended to enhance the China-India friendship; second, a multinational forum of Afro-Asian writers designed to advance cultural self-determination and literary solidarity in the Third World; third, India’s enthusiastic import of modern Chinese fiction under the rubric of “revolutionary” with the Foreign Languages Press acting as the main text provider; fourth, China’s systematic reception of “progressive” Indian fiction as part of the PRC’s model of world literature; and fifth, a counter-intuitive yet strikingly productive and cross-media transplantation of Hindi popular fiction in 1980s China. Although post-1950 China and India shared considerable common grounds for developing literary contact, nevertheless the ways they engaged with each other’s modern literature differed significantly due to their different literary cultures, political systems, and Cold War ideologies. The result is a landscape of literary relations that is markedly horizontal but nonetheless asymmetrical.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Francesca Orsini
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2020 08:36

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item