Comrades at Odds: Culture and Indo-U. S. Relations, 1947-1964

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Comrades at Odds explores the complicated Cold War relationship between the United States and the newly independent India of Jawaharlal Nehru from a unique perspective—that of culture, broadly defined. In a departure from the usual way of doing diplomatic history, Andrew J. Rotter chose culture as his jumping-off point because, he says, "Like the rest of us, policymakers and diplomats do not shed their values, biases, and assumptions at their office doors. They are creatures of culture, and their attitudes cannot...
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Overview

Comrades at Odds explores the complicated Cold War relationship between the United States and the newly independent India of Jawaharlal Nehru from a unique perspective—that of culture, broadly defined. In a departure from the usual way of doing diplomatic history, Andrew J. Rotter chose culture as his jumping-off point because, he says, "Like the rest of us, policymakers and diplomats do not shed their values, biases, and assumptions at their office doors. They are creatures of culture, and their attitudes cannot help but shape the policy they make." To define those attitudes, Rotter consults not only government documents and the memoirs of those involved in the events of the day, but also literature, art, and mass media. "An advertisement, a photograph, a cartoon, a film, and a short story," he finds, "tell us in their own ways about relations between nations as surely as a State Department memorandum does."While expanding knowledge about the creation and implementation of democracy, Rotter carries his analysis across the categories of race, class, gender, religion, and culturally infused practices of governance, strategy, and economics.Americans saw Indians as superstitious, unclean, treacherous, lazy, and prevaricating. Indians regarded Americans as arrogant, materialistic, uncouth, profane, and violent. Yet, in spite of these stereotypes, Rotter notes the mutual recognition of profound similarities between the two groups; they were indeed "comrades at odds."
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Andrew Rotter has written an original and thoughtful book on United States-Indian relations during the cold war. . . This book should be read widely by diplomatic historians; it offers a model for future research and analysis and breakes important new ground in the study of international history."—International Journal, Autumn 2001

"Comrades at Odds illustrates both the virtues and the shortcomings of the new history. Rotter offers a subtle reading of heretofore-neglected source materials, and he adds to our understanding of the cultural side of this difficult relationship. . . .This book provides valuable insights."—Robert M. Hathaway. Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2001

"An agreeable read, Rotter's book provides a great many probing observations on such varying matters as smell, space, family, and truth, along with assessments of their effect on the way policy was conceived and carried out. . . .What Rotter's fascinating work amounts to is really less a causal account than. . . a myriad of vignettes, snapshots, details, and striking insights that forces one precisely not to conclude but to think."—Anders Stephanson, Columbia University. American Historical Review, February 2002

"Rotter's study is as sophisticated and, at the same time, as commonsensical as the new approach gets. He dons theory but wears it lightly. . . He interrogates such usual suspects as race and gender but adds religion, family, and folkways of economy and governance. . . He has a good ear for anecdote and a good eye for the detail that illuminates the landscape."—H.W. Brands, Texas A&M University. Journal of American History, March 2002

"In this original, imaginative and informative study, Rotter argues that cultural perceptions, perhaps more than any other factor, have affected policy makers in both America and the subcontinent when formulating policy toward each other. The result is a fascinating book. . . Virtually every facet of culture is discussed and explained in masterly detail."—Choice, September 2001

"More than a bilateral history of U.S.-Indian relations in the early decades of the Cold War, Comrades at Odds offers a new and exciting way of thinking about international relations as cultural relations. It is a must-read for scholars seeking to expand the horizon of the old diplomatic history."—Michael J. Hogan, Ohio State University

"Andrew J. Rotter's important book engages a cultural approach to Indo-American relations and carefully weaves into it the record of diplomacy upon which foreign policy historians usually rely. Pleasurable and imaginative, Rotter's book is a major achievement that few U.S. historians have yet matched."—Michael S. Sherry, Northwestern University

"What makes Andrew J. Rotter's approach new and exciting is the way in which he links conventional debates in Cold War diplomatic history—those over strategic raw materials, wheat loans, foreign aid, neutralism, economic development, and so on—to a wide range of cultural and social beliefs. Engrossing, provocative, and persuasive, Comrades at Odds is a very important book on the cutting edge of foreign policy's cultural construction."—Christian G. Appy, Editor of Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism, 1945-1966

"A tour de force of U.S. relations with the globe's largest (and nuclear armed) democracy. Rotter uses provocative cultural as well as diplomatic analysis to show how India sees the United States, as well as the prisms through which Americans see Indians - and he does so with wide-ranging research and perspective that, despite the subtitle, takes us back to the 18th-century and into the 21st."—Walter LaFeber, Noll Professor of History, Cornell University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801484605
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2000
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface xiii
Introduction: Americans and Indians, Selves and Others 1
1 Strategy: Great Games Old and New and Ideas about Space 37
2 Economics: Trade, Aid, and Development 77
3 Governance: The Family, the State, and Foreign Relations 116
4 Race: Americans and Indians, at Home and in Africa 150
5 Gender: The Upright and the Passive 188
6 Religion: Christians, Hindus, and Muslims 220
7 Class, Caste, and Status: The Gestures of Diplomacy 249
Epilogue: The Persistance of Culture 281
Notes 291
Index 327
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