Elisabeth B. Armstrong, "Bury the Corpse of Colonialism: The Revolutionary Feminist Conference of 1949" (U California Press, 2023)


In 1949, women from across the world traveled to Beijing for the Asian Women’s Conference to discuss how to combat the dual threats of colonial rule and a new post-war global imperialism. These activists developed a groundbreaking political strategy, which assigned different roles to women living in colonial nations and those still colonized, arguing that both had a part to place in creating a more just global peace. 

In Bury the Corpse of Colonialism: The Revolutionary Feminist Conference of 1949 (University of California Press, 2023), Elisabeth Armstrong looks more closely at the lives of the women who attended the conference. Their backgrounds in anticolonial struggles helped shape the work of the umbrella organization—the Women’s International Democratic Federation—that supported the convening. The book profiles a range of women from Indonesia, Vietnam, the United States, France, India, Iraq, and China among others, who had been involved in armed revolution, antifascist resistance, and leftist party politics worldwide. In the preparations and travel that led to the conference they butted heads, but also built lasting friendships with each other through their activism. Their collective efforts helped create a framework for internationalist solidarity for women’s emancipation in a world structured through militarism, capitalism, patriarchy, and the seeming impossibility of justice.

Rebecca Turkington is a PhD Candidate in History at Cambridge University studying transnational women’s networks.

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Rebecca Turkington

PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge
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