Arms, Arts and Agriculture: Indo-Mexican Intellectual Connections in the Early Twentieth Century

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’.