Glamour in the Pacific: Cultural Internationalism and Race Politics in the Women's Pan-Pacific
304pp. July 2009
Glamour in the Pacific: Cultural Internationalism and Race Politics in the Women's Pan-Pacific
Author: Paisley, Fiona;
Since its inception in 1928, the Pan-Pacific Women’s Association (PPWA) has witnessed and contributed to enormous changes in world and Pacific history. Operating out of Honolulu, this women’s network established a series of conferences that promoted social reform and an internationalist outlook through cultural exchange. For the many women attracted to the project—from China, Japan, the Pacific Islands, and the major settler colonies of the region—the association’s vision was enormously attractive, despite the fact that as individuals and national representatives they remained deeply divided by colonial histories.

Glamour in the Pacific tells this multifaceted story by bringing together critical scholarship from across a wide range of fields, including cultural history, international relations and globalization, gender and empire, postcolonial studies, population and world health studies, world history, and transnational history. Early chapters consider the first PPWA conferences and the decolonizing process undergone by the association. Following World War II, a new generation of nonwhite women from decolonized and settler colonial nations began to claim leadership roles in the Association, challenging the often Eurocentric assumptions of women’s internationalism. In 1955 the first African American delegate brought to the fore questions about the relationship of U.S. race relations with the Pan-Pacific cultural internationalist project. The effects of cold war geopolitics on the ideal of international cooperation in the era of decolonization were also considered. The work concludes with a discussion of the revival of "East meets West" as a basis for world cooperation endorsed by the United Nations in 1958 and the overall contributions of the PPWA to world culture politics.

The internationalist vision of the early twentieth century imagined a world in which race and empire had been relegated to the past. Significant numbers of women from around the Pacific brought this shared vision—together with their concerns for peace, social progress and cooperation—to the lively, even glamorous, political experiment of the Pan-Pacific Women’s Association. Fiona Paisley tells the stories of this extraordinary group of women and illuminates the challenges and rewards of their politics of antiracism—one that still resonates today.

15 illus.

Perspectives on the Global Past Series
“Paisley’s extensive research has uncovered significant material on the negotiation of women’s international, national, and cultural identity. Her account of the dynamics and experience of PPWA conferences offers both a fascinating and intellectually rewarding approach to the history of women’s internationalism.” —American Historical Review (June 2011)

“This book places at center stage an organization that embodies many of the crises of colonial modernity that scholars have been grappling with and refracts it through a set of actors and geographical locations that deserve to be better understood and taught widely. Paisley lays out her story in accessible yet analytically sophisticated ways that in turn make manifest the complex unfolding of cultural politics in the Pan-Pacific. The scholarship is extraordinarily impressive and represents the best kind of transnational research there is.” —Antoinette Burton, Bastian Professor of Transnational and Global Studies, University of Illinois

“In this deeply researched and elegantly analyzed book, Fiona Paisley extends our understanding of the history of transnational feminism by shifting our focus from the transatlantic to the transpacific. And more. With a nuanced deftness, she shows the complex results when the desire of white Euro-American women to overcome racism and imperialism through cultural internationalism met the articulated interests of women from Asia and the Pacific islands. No one committed to global social justice today can afford to ignore this history.” —Leila J. Rupp, Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Author: Paisley, Fiona;
Fiona Paisley is a cultural historian at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.
Read the introduction (PDF).