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Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

CLAIRE LOUISE BLASER

A global biography: Frieda Hauswirth Das (1886-1974) between Switzerland, California, and India


This research project aims to reconstruct the life and legacy of Frieda Hauswirth Das (1886-1974), a radical political activist, writer, and artist with origins in the Swiss mountains. Her life’s trajectory leads from humble beginnings in rural Switzerland to higher education in the intellectual centres of Northern California all the way to the tumultuous India of the first half of the twentieth century, where Hauswirth lived for many years as a member of the political and cultural avant-garde, thanks to her anti-colonial and feminist leanings.

Hauswirth’s “global biography” is to be researched on the basis of unexplored archival material from Switzerland, the USA, England, and India. Her biography thereby serves as an instrument to approach broader historical moments form unfamiliar perspectives and to point out their connectedness. On a methodological level, the project combines an intersectional gendered perspective with a global history approach. Hauswirht’s intellectual and artistic work provide an important case study for the history of ideas of Switzerland in the context of European Imperialism; for the history of knowledge production about the “oriental Other” in a “colonial outsider” country of Western Europe; and for the early history of transnational feminist knowledge production.