Becoming Anti-Imperial: Colonial Politics and Feminist Solidarities in the Global Life of Frieda Hauswirth

Frieda Hauswirth (1886-1974) was born and raised in a rural Swiss community, emigrated to the US in the 1910s and subsequently lived in colonial India for almost a decade during the 1920s. In the 1930s, her decidedly anti-colonial and feminist books about India became widely read in Switzerland. This paper focuses on Hauswirth’s political «coming-of-age» by examining how gendered concerns around economic agency, education and mobility influenced her early politicisation and migration routes. It then looks at how her political commitments shifted through interactions with non-white and non-Western milieus in California and India, which pushed her personal and political ethics into a more global and imperial framework of reference. In particular, I ask what role Hauswirth’s experience of gendered oppression and class-based exclusions played in her «situational identification» with colonial or racialised «subalterns» in the USA and British India. Finally, I give a brief outlook on the reception of Hauswirth’s work back in Switzerland and how it was filtered through her gender, her whiteness, her «interracial marriage» and her Swiss identity.