Su Lin Lewis on Cities in Motion

John Paulas
August 09, 2016
Su Lin Lewis Photo

Su Lin Lewis, University of Bristol, has recently published the book that was work in progress when she was a Townsend Fellow in 2011-12: Cities in Motion: Urban Life and Cosmopolitanism, 1920-1940 (Cambridge, 2016) is a social history of cosmopolitanism as experienced by the diverse inhabitants of Southeast Asian port cities in the 1920s and 1930s, when a rising Japan and American capitalism challenged the predominance of European empires.

Moving away from a nationalist reading of the period, the book explores layers of cross-cultural interaction in various spheres: the urban built environment, associations, the media, education, popular culture, and the emergence of the modern woman.

While a UC Berkeley Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Townsend Fellow, Lewis refined many of the themes of the manuscript.The material on international Rotary networks and multiethnic associational life in Southeast Asia that Lewis discussed with the Townsend Fellows group forms a subchapter of the new book and also appeared as a standalone article in the summer 2012 issue of the Journal of Global History. Lewis says she is particularly grateful to the fellows for their comments on her work and for "the lasting friendships ... consolidated through vibrant, interdisciplinary conversation over delicious lunches."