Journal of Global History


Indian Nationalism and the ‘world forces’: transnational and diasporic dimensions of the Indian freedom movement on the eve of the First World War

Harald Fischer-Tinéa1

a1 Jacobs University,School of Humanities and Social Sciences/History, Bremen, Germany E-mail:


The present article takes a global perspective on the diasporic networks of Indian revolutionaries that were emerging on the eve of the First World War. It looks particularly at three important headquarters of their activities, namely London, New York and Tokyo. The narrative is centred on the ‘India Houses’ that were opened in these three cities and served as the institutional umbrella units for the revolutionary schemes. Finally, the political alliances forged and the ideological resources tapped in these three settings are sketched out and briefly analysed. The case study makes two points: to begin with, it is important to extend historical scrutiny beyond the geographical bounds of India to fully grasp the development of Indian nationalism in this first peak time of globalization; second, the existence of the sophisticated transnational anti-imperial propaganda networks that are the focus of this study raises doubts about the alleged watershed character of the First World War as the ‘global moment’ that decisively shook the imperial world order. The year 1905, it is argued, was at least as important in this regard.

Harald Fischer-Tiné is Professor of History at Jacobs University, Bremen Germany.