Global Concepts and the Semantics of Social Spaces: Fascism and National Socialism in the Political Language of Subhas Chandra Bose


  • Miguel Ohnesorge University of Kassel, Department for Global History, Department for New and Recent History



This paper examines the conceptual incorporation of ‘Fascism’ and ‘National Socialism’ into the political language of Indian nationalist icon Subhas Chandra Bose, who influentially cooperated with the Axis powers during the Second World War. The article thereby tries to situate this case study in a wider methodological context shedding light on the relationship(s) between globally circulating concepts and the semantics of the specific social spaces they were articulated in. By reconstructing Bose’s political language on the background of his political biography, it offers new insights into the entanglements between Indian political thought and European fascism. His framings of Italian Fascism, German National Socialism and fascist ideology were closely tied to his role in the Indian anticolonial struggle. The paper, thus, highlights the role that the ‘social field’ of Congress politics and the looser social formations of wartime politics played in structuring the reference semantics. Beyond the case study, it thereby proposes a heuristic framework to further analyse the practical functions that globally circulating concepts may obtain in specific social spaces.

Author Biography

Miguel Ohnesorge, University of Kassel, Department for Global History, Department for New and Recent History

Miguel Ohnesorge is a History and Philosophy undergraduate student at Kassel University. He is working as a student assistant at the Chair of Global History and the Institute of Philosophy. His research interests include the history of colonialism and decolonisation in South Asia, the global history of political ideas, and the history and philosophy of science. He holds a scholarship granted by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation and is currently working on his graduation thesis on ‘Colonial Science and Public Knowledge at the Great Exhibition of 1851.’

Subhas Chandra Bose with Heinrich Himmler. 1943. Photo Courtesy of Bundesarchiv.