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.
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