Tracing Southern Cosmopolitanisms: the intersecting networks of Islam, Trade Unions, Gender and Communism, 1945-1965

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Heather Goodall


At the end of World War 2, there were high hopes across the Indian Ocean for a new world in which the relationships between working people would mean more than the borders which separated them. This paper will explore the fate of the hopes for new worlds, in the decades after 1945, by following the uneven relationships among working class Australians, Indonesians and Indians in the aftermath of an intense political struggle in Australia from 1945 to 1949 in support of Indonesian independence. They had been brought together by intersections between the networks established through colonialism, like trade unions, communism and feminism, with those having much longer histories, like Islam. The men and women in this Australian setting expressed their vision in 1945 for a future of universal and transnational networks across the Indian Ocean which would continue the alliances they had found so fruitful. Today their experiences as well as their hopes might be called cosmopolitanism – they expected that the person-to-person friendships they were forming could be sustained and be able to negotiate the differences between them to achieve common aims. Although these hopes for new futures of universal alliances and collaborations were held passionately in the 1940s, all seem to have died by 1970, diverted by newly independent national trajectories and defeated by the Cold War. Yet many of the relationships persisted far longer than might be expected and their unravelling was not inevitable. This paper will trace the course of a few of the relationships which began in the heat of the campaigns in Australia, 1943 to 1945, in order to identify the continuing common ground as well as the rising tensions which challenged them.

Article Details

Articles (refereed)
Author Biography

Heather Goodall, University of Technology Sydney

Heather Goodall is a Professor of History at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is researching the connections which have taken place through the Sydney docks to the Indian Ocean and particularly those between Australians and Indian seafarers, demonstrated in their collaboration to support Indonesian independence in 1945.