Dr Su Lin Lewis

BA(Comb. Hons), MA(Lond.), PhD(Cantab.)

  • BS8 1TB

Personal profile

Research interests

Office: 1.2, 26/27 St. Michael's Park

Phone: +44 (0)117 928 7912

Email: sulin.lewis@bristol.ac.uk

Twitter: @sulinlewis

I specialise in global and transnational history in the twentieth century, and have research interests in urban history, civil society and activist networks, gender, migration, decolonisation, and development in the twentieth century. My geographical focus is mainly Southeast Asia (especially Burma, Malaysia, and Indonesia) as a vantage point for examining broader pan-Asian, Afro-Asian, and global connections.

My first monograph, Cities in Motion: urban life and cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia 1920-1940 (2016) sought to move away from a nation-based and ethnic nationalist reading of colonial-era Southeast Asia by examining the cosmopolitan port-city as a site of experimentation and cross-cultural interaction in the built environment, civic associations, print media, education, and popular culture, with a focus on Penang, Rangoon, and Bangkok.  It won the Urban History Association Prize for Best Book (Non-North America, 2015-2016).

I was the PI on a collaborative research project on Afro-Asian Networks in the Early Cold War funded by the AHRC (co-led with Carolien Stolte, Leiden). The project examined the broad participation of activists, socialists, artists, and writers in the Afro-Asian solidarity movements of the broader Bandung era and pioneered an innovative collaborative research methodology that encouraged scholarly collaboration from the point of archival inquiry to the writing-up process. We also produced an edited collection, The Lives of Cold War Afro-Asianism (Leiden University, 2022). 

I am currently an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellow working on a project on Socialist Internationalism in the Afro-Asian World.

I am a member of the editorial board of Past and Present and was on the Board of Directors of the Global Urban History project.


I completed my MA at the School of Oriental and African Studies and my PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2010. I was a Past and Present Post-Doctoral Fellow at the IHR (2010-2011) and Mellon post-doctoral fellow at the University of California Berkeley (2011-2013). I was Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Birmingham from 2013-2014. 

Between degrees, I worked on and managed community-driven development projects for the World Bank and International Organization for Migration in Indonesia, where I developed an interest in the history of local civil society organizations and grassroots social movements in Southeast Asia. 

Research Supervision

I would be interested in supervising students who wish to work on any topic relating to my research interests. I also welcome proposals relating to global/transnational connections in Asia and the political, social, intellectual, and cultural history of Southeast Asia between c. 1800 and the present.  I supervise and have co-supervised students working on Indonesian contributions to Afro-Asian networks, multiracial communities in Asian port-cities, the emergence of the suit in post-war Hong Kong; Chinese students in 1920s Paris, and post-war rehabilitation and humanitarianism in China. 


I have designed and taught courses on Colonial Radicals, Modern Girls and New Women, Decolonization, Global Cities, the History of Modern Southeast Asia, and on Global Development.  I am the unit convenor for a team-taught unit on Asia in Global Perspective.


Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Decolonisation
  • Migration Mobilities Bristol
  • Urban Research Cluster
  • Centre for Black Humanities
  • Centre for Environmental Humanities


  • Gender & sexuality
  • Gender and Imperialism
  • Southeast Asia
  • Inter-cultural exchange
  • Civil Society
  • urban
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Global History
  • cities
  • Intellectual History
  • Colonialism
  • Post-Colonialism
  • Socialism
  • Humanitarianism
  • Myanmar
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Decolonisation


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