The politics of friendship and cosmopolitan thought zones at the end of empire: Indian women's study tours to Europe 1934-1938: Indian women’s study tours to europe 1934–38

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Abstract

This article considers one of the first series of study tour groups for young Indian women in the mid-1930s, organised under the auspices of the Geneva-based International Student Service. Led by Mrs Alexandrena Datta, wife of the Indian Christian nationalist leader S.K. Datta, the tours took groups of 20 women students and young professionals from diverse faith, caste and ethnic backgrounds on four-month study tours across Europe, visiting progressive social and educational programmes and reform-minded people. Combining albums of the tours assembled by Mrs Datta and the published accounts of the 1935 tour by a participant, Mrs Kuttan Nair, images and text are deconstructed to identify how a politics of friendship within a global imperial social formation emerges. The article argues that the politics of friendship discernible in the remnant archive of the tours was part of a cosmopolitan thought zone that linked a nationalist and structuralist critique of imperial modernity to a vision of Indian women as agentic anti-colonial subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalHistory Australia: Journal of The Australian Historical Association
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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