RHS Lecture — Dr Su Lin Lewis, 16 September 2022



‘Decolonising the History of Internationalism’



Dr Su Lin Lewis

(University of Bristol)


Friday 16 September 2022
18.00 BST – University College London & Live-streamed

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The history of internationalism has tended to focus on power centres in the Global North – London, Geneva, New York, and Paris – and institutions like the League of Nations, United Nations, and UNESCO.  What happens when we flip our perspective, and view internationalism from the point of view of the decolonising South? What do we get when we shift our focus from world leaders to the internationalism of activists, intellectuals, feminists, poets, artists, rebels, and insurgents operating in Asia and Africa?

Moreover, how are our methods of researching and debating international history – in universities, archives, and conferences in the Global North – structured by economic inequalities, colonial legacies, and visa regimes that limit participation from scholars from the South?

This lecture considers how we might decolonise both the content and the methods of international history, focusing especially on leftist internationalism in the Afro-Asian world.


Speaker biography

Dr Su Lin Lewis is Associate Professor in Modern Global History at the University of Bristol. She works on the social history of globalisation, including cosmopolitan port-cities, transnational activist movements, and post-colonial internationalism, with a focus on modern Southeast Asia.

Su Lin’s monograph, Cities in Motion: Urban Life and Cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia 1920-1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) won the Urban History Association’s Prize for Best Book (Non-North America) for 2015-16. She co-led an AHRC-funded research network on ‘Afro-Asian Networks in the Early Cold War’ and is currently an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellow investigating Socialist Internationalism in the Afro-Asian World.


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