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Glamour in the Pacific

Glamour in the Pacific: Cultural Internationalism and Race Politics in the Women's Pan-Pacific

Fiona Paisley
Copyright Date: 2009
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    Glamour in the Pacific
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6265-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    From the late 1920s to the present, a Pan-Pacific women’s network has operated out of Honolulu. This book focuses on its first three decades. During these years, from 1928 until 1958 and over eight conferences, the association witnessed and contributed to enormous changes in world and Pacific history. Through turbulent years of Depression, world war, decolonization, and cold war, its delegates met to practice a new way of being in the world, one combining social reform with an anti-racist politics built upon ideals of cross-cultural exchange and interracial harmony. As such, the Pan-Pacific women’s network contributed to a larger movement...

  6. One Civilization at the Crossroads
    (pp. 29-62)

    Soon after a Pan-Pacific Women’s Conference was first suggested, one of its future participants addressed colleagues in the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR). Mary Emma Woolley was the president of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and an experienced internationalist who would become an important figure in the Pan-Pacific women’s movement. During the IPR conference held at the Bishop Hall in Honolulu in 1925, Woolley spoke of women’s determination to contribute to cooperation between countries of the Pacific. In a eulogy to the progress of world civilization, she concluded:

    The problem of the twentieth century is to learn how to live...

  7. Two Decolonizing the Women’s Pan-Pacific
    (pp. 63-96)

    During one afternoon of the 1928 conference, numbers of PPWA delegates watched an official reenactment of Captain Cook’s “discovery” of Hawai‘i. As the performance proceeded, Hawai‘i’s status as a settler colony of the United States threatened to disrupt its carefully constructed narrative of heroic British colonization. In her account of the event, Australia delegate Britomarte James noted the amusement of the audience as Hawaiian actors who spoke in the place of their ancestors did so with American accents. This brash evidence of a larger American ascendancy in the Pacific underlined the ways in which previously British, imperial relations were now...

  8. Three Interracial Friendship
    (pp. 97-128)

    Writing in her conference diary in 1934, Elsie Andrews recorded with pride that the Pan-Pacific Women’s Association had celebrated the New Zealand delegation as an example to the world. The bilingual and bicultural presentation by its Maori and Pakeha members had been the hit of the Honolulu conference that year. Their performance was considered to have encapsulated the very kind of harmonious and cooperative race relations likely to facilitate a just and humane future between the peoples of the world. This chapter focuses on the efforts of Andrews—both as the leader of the delegation and through her part in...

  9. Four Population, Peace, and Protection
    (pp. 129-160)

    In the summer of 1937, women internationalists from across the Pacific gathered in Vancouver, Canada, for the fourth Pan-Pacific Women’s Conference. Under the conference theme of “Practical Ways and Means to Promote Peace,” over the next two weeks participants discussed a range of issues concerning the promotion of world cooperation and the end of war. Projects with titles such as “Youth Movements for Peace,” “International Affairs Today,” “Development of Public Opinion,” and “Population” were considered by the conference as it grappled with the implications of increasing unrest in Europe and Asia. While delegates traveled toward the conference, Sino-Japanese hostilities in...

  10. Five Culture and Identity
    (pp. 161-188)

    This chapter continues an investigation of indigenous involvements in the PPWA. We turn again toward Maori participation, but this time from the perspective of handcraft as a site of cross-cultural exchange in the 1950s. The handcraft traditions of women were ascribed cultural significance in the association as it sought to affirm the central role of local women in the negotiation of globalization. Moreover, the continuation of women’s handcraft in the West was considered to provide the context for women to unite across diverse cultural traditions and levels of development. In previous decades, as we have seen, indigenous traditional cultures had...

  11. Six Race Politics in the Cold War
    (pp. 189-217)

    In 1955 a Pan-Pacific Women’s Conference was held for the first time in Southeast Asia. Reflecting on the forthcoming conference, US conference organizer and published author on native cultures in the Pacific, Japan, and India, Willowdean Handy predicted in 1954 that “Asians and Oceanicas” would approve of a conference held in Manila, the Philippines.¹ She would be proven right. Twenty-one countries, including Australia, Hawai‘i, Japan, New Zealand, Burma, Tonga, Ceylon, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and the Philippines itself sent delegates to discuss the conference theme, “Social and Economic Inter-dependence.” Among them were several first-time delegations from Pacific islands who had benefited...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 218-228)

    On a warm Tokyo evening in August 1958, an outdoor supper party was organized as part of the eighth PPSEAWA conference. Congregated under trees lit by paper lanterns, delegates enjoyed Japanese food and watched traditional folk dances performed by their hosts. Each wore a kimono, the overall effect creating a “scene of great gaiety and merriment.”¹ At last, the association had made its way to the country so important to its early formation.

    With the ubiquitous kimono, the complex dress politics integral to this study of the PPWA and its successor, PPSEAWA, were finally rendered to a collective act of...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 229-262)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 263-280)
  15. Index
    (pp. 281-292)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-294)