China-India history of the 1950s remains mired in concerns related to border demarcations and a teleological focus on the causes, course, and consequences of the war of 1962. The result is an overt emphasis on diplomatic and international history of a rather narrow form. In critiquing this narrowness, this article offers an alternate chronology accompanied by two substantive case studies. Taken together, they demonstrate that an approach that takes seriously cultural, scientific, and economic life leads to different sources and different historical arguments than an approach focused on political (and especially high political) life. Such a shift in emphasis, away from conflict and onto moments of contact, comparison, cooperation, and competition, can contribute fresh perspectives not just on the histories of China and India, but also on the histories of the Global South.