Anna Bocking-Welch
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Friendship, hospitality, and the hierarchies of affective international relationships
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Chapter 3 addresses the emotional history of international engagement, focusing on projects designed to develop familiarity and intimacy across international boundaries. It uses the international activities of the Women’s Institute and the Rotary Club to explore these issues. The projects discussed fall into two categories: providing hospitality to foreign visitors (particularly overseas students) and building friendships with people living overseas. It illustrates how imperial legacies determined not only the geographies of these connections but also the hierarchical structures through which they were conceived. Put simply, the possibility of equal or reciprocal friendship was determined to a considerable degree by the colour of one’s skin. The hospitality work of the Rotary Club and Women’s Institute also illustrates how affective relationships were shaped by local and state priorities. Through their interaction with the British Council, Rotary and the Women’s Institute became agents in state projects of soft diplomacy that sought to improve relations with the Commonwealth.

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British civic society at the end of empire

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