Pacific dreams : the Institute of Pacific Relations and the struggle for the mind of Asia
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This dissertation examines the efforts of Pacific internationalists in the years during and after World War II to forge private intellectual connections between the West and Asia. One of the most prominent groups in this movement was the Institute of Pacific Relations (1925-61), an international non-governmental organization that nurtured a trans-Pacific community of scholars, businessmen and diplomats through research projects and international conferences. In evaluating the work of these internationalists during the postwar period, this dissertation challenges conventional Cold War historiography that has marginalized such cooperative efforts during these years. Previous scholarship concerning the Institute of Pacific Relations has noted the way in which the organization fell victim to anti-communist politics in the United States, yet no studies have examined the records of its postwar conferences, which reveal an active international agenda well into the 1950s. The support of Asian members for such trans-Pacific ties, moreover, provides a counter-narrative to the story of revolutionary nationalism and third-world solidarity among emerging Asian and African countries during this period. The Institute of Pacific Relations acted as a valuable asset in the struggle for the “mind of Asia,” this dissertation argues, largely because its leadership did not conform to the prevailing Cold War mindset. As a private international organization, the IPR provided a venue for unofficial dialogue among private elites who at once confronted and transcended the geopolitical restrictions of their time. In maintaining private East-West partnerships through such turbulent years, these Pacific internationalists set the stage for regional cooperative ventures to flourish later in the twentieth century.