Women, Hospitality, and the Intimate Politics of International Socialism

Su Lin Lewis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


In the 1950s, a commitment to democratic socialism connected networks of intellectuals, activists, and political operators in both Europe and Asia. Many of these were women, who built informal and intimate networks of solidarity that underpinned the movement. The rich set of correspondence between European and Asian socialist women speak to their role as connectors of global and local civil society within international socialist circuits. They also indicate the importance of mobility and hospitality as a crucial factor in sustaining such networks, as well as building the trust that facilitated the exchange of subversive information. While Asia was seen as the great hope of international socialism in the 1950s, by the middle of the 1960s, many of its socialist parties had imploded, pointing to the limits of international socialism for Asian women amidst global anti-communism and the rise of authoritarian states. Transnational socialist networks nonetheless helped further both European and Asian women’s campaigns for gender equality, development, and democratic socialism in decolonising Asia, adding vital new dimensions to the history of internationalism.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbergtad006
Number of pages39
JournalPast and Present
Issue number1
Early online date24 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Apr 2023

Structured keywords

  • Decolonisation


  • Internationalism
  • Socialism
  • Women's Movements
  • Hospitality
  • history of emotions
  • Labour Party
  • Socialist International
  • Civil Society
  • Asia
  • Myanmar
  • India
  • Sri Lanka
  • Indonesia
  • Japan


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