Cold War Cosmopolitanism: The Education of Santha Rama Rau in the Age of Bandung, 1945-1954
- Cold War Cosmopolitanism: The Education of Santha Rama Rau in the Age of Bandung, 1945-1954
- Burton, A.M.
- Issue Date
- Rau, Santha Rama
- When Santha Rama Rau burst onto the international literary scene in 1945 with her first book, Home to India, she was just twenty-two years old. Over half a dozen books and half a century later, she was anthologized in a Norton reader as a writer, a writing teacher, and the prototypical cosmopolitan of the twentieth century: “Born in Madras, India . . . [she] lived all over the world, from England to South Africa to Japan, until she settled in the United States.” Rama Rau’s transformation from fledgling author into the embodiment of the modern cosmopolitan ideal was largely a function of her elite status, her family connections, and the opportunities available to her as an educated Indian woman. The daughter of a diplomat father and an activist-feminist mother, she had all the credentials of the classic cosmopolite, including a transnational childhood lived across the spaces of the British Raj and an equally mobile adulthood facilitated by marriage to an American, Faubion Bowers, and a career as a travel writer. Though she did not recognize herself as exceptional, she conceded that her contemporaries might find her life “odd, peculiar, even a little mad . . . or exotic.” Exoticism was, of course, a fate to which many ex-colonial people who aspired to a cosmopolitan identity were subject in the decades following the breakup of the British Empire. But Rama Rau’s story does more than reveal the possibilities and limits of cosmopolitanism. Taken together, the books she produced in the wake of her travels in the 1940s and 1950s articulate a shifting vision of global community: from an earlier, Eurocentric model — rooted in a British/imperial worldview — to a pan-Asian model — rooted in the realization of an emergent America centered global hegemony. (From the article)
- Duke University Press
- Type of Resource
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- Copyright 2006 by MARHO: The Radical Historians’ Organization, Inc.
Antoinette Burton PRIMARYSpecializes in women, gender and empire in the context of modern Britain and colonial India.
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