Dear Members of the International Studies Community:

At last year’s ISA meeting in San Francisco, the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies section honored Professor LHM (Lily) Ling with FTGS’s Eminent Scholar Award. Today, sadly, we mourn Professor Ling’s passing. It is a sad day for our community, and a great loss to the International Relations community as a whole. 

Professor Ling was Professor of International Affairs at the New School. Her work is extraordinary for its breadth and depth of field, which challenged us all to think critically and with solidarity with each other. She developed rich relationships with colleagues in our field, which are reflected in the number of co-authored works and edited volumes. She is the author of several important works, including Postcolonial International Relations: Conquest and Desire between Asia and the West (2002), Transforming World Politics: From Empire to Multiple Worlds (co-authored with A.M. Agathangelou, York University, 2009); The Dao of World Politics: Towards a Post-Westphalian, Worldist International Relations (2014); and Imagining World Politics: Sihar & Shenya, A Fable for Our Times (2014). Her anthologies include Theorizing International Politics from the Global South: Worlds of Difference (co-edited with Nizar Messari and Arlene B. Tickner); Asia in International Relations: Unlearning Imperial Power Relations (co-edited with Pinar Bilgin, Routledge, 2017); India and China: Rethinking Borders and Security (University of Michigan Press, 2016); and Four Seas to One Family: Overseas Chinese and the Chinese Dream (co-edited with Tan Chung, bilingual edition, 2015). Her articles appeared in the top journals of our field. 

Professor Ling is beloved in our community for her mentorship and generosity of spirit. She worked tirelessly on behalf of FTGS and the International Feminist Journal of Politics. Her work with graduate students has left an indelible impression upon their work, as well as the the work of her peers. As Cynthia Enloe wrote in one of Professor Ling’s nominationletters last year, Professor Ling used her intellectual analysis to pry open all of our minds to a gendered understanding of international politics that recognizes our own North American/Eurocentrism, while also spelling out an alternative.For so many of us in FTGS this was indeed stretchy and reinvigorating. Reinvigorating indeed. Professor Ling’s writings breathed passion and life into much of our own work, and we are truly grateful for that. Her sense of adventure was reflected in not only her critical engagement with and challenge to the IR canon but also in her ability to think outside the box in her writing. Her book Imagining World Politics: Sihar & Shenya, A Fable for Our Times (2014) was written as a fable, a play to engage multiple audiences on important issues of our times. She used film, literature and art in developing her acute and razorsharp analyses of world politics. 

Lily had a wicked sense of humor which was put to good use in calling out misogyny and racism, calming down tricky situations, and entertaining her friends and students. No wonder then that she had such a loyal following of students and friends among our community, which will be devastated by her loss. She will be much missed by so many. 

We would like to include our entire community to honor Professor Ling. Thus, FTGS welcomes tributes and reflections, to be posted on our website, We welcome any and all reflections upon her work, and hope to create a lasting memorial. 


The Executive Committee of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Section of ISA


5 thoughts on “Remembering Professor Lily HM Ling

  1. Lily was a wonderful, kind, creative, courageous and unique person. Although I wish I had had more chances to share space with her, I’ll never forget the kindness and support she showed me when I first met her as a young postdoc almost ten years ago, and the mind-opening, often hilarious, conversations shared with her since. Her work did so much to recognize and honour the diversity of thought in global studies, challenge Euro-centrism and affirm creative, experimental forms of critique. It is generosity like hers – of mind, spirit and heart – that enables others to thrive in what can be a harsh and unforgiving context. She is deeply missed.


  2. Remembering Lily

    I will never forget meeting Lily for the first time in a cafe in Amsterdam in 1995 when Marianne Marchand and I
    were hosting the conference on Gender and Global Restructuring. She and Kimberly Chang contributed a
    powerful paper (“Globalization and Its Intimate Other: Filipino Domestic Workers in Hong Kong”) that has appeared in two editions of the volume that arose from it and remains landmark to this day. She hosted me at Syracuse University to give a lecture and I stayed at her home where she had a lovely party for me and she and Gavan were consummate hosts. We also presented together at Oberlin College as guests of Anna Agathangelou and had a wonderful time in each other’s company. It was also lovely to spend quality time with her at the New School when Marianne and I spoke there. And of course, there were the countless times we met up at ISA for chat and cheer.

    Thus, Lily has been a touchstone in my life, indelible in my memory. So much sorrow with her passing, but her wondrous, generous, and indefatigable spirit and her giant intellect live on in memories and in her tremendous body of work, which I share with students all the time. I cherish the beautiful glassware she gave me many years ago that continues to remind me of the beauty she brought to this world and the hopes she had and the contributions she has made for its transformation.


  3. Really very sad to hear about the demise of Lily. In my various interactions with her at the ISA, I found her to be a very gentle person. She was a very sweet natured person who accepted diversity. She is going to be missed.


  4. So sad to learn about Lily’s passing away… Lily always inspired and encouraged me to embrace diversity and multiples worlds, influencing my teaching and work in environmental studies. She was very generous, sharing her time by answering all my thousand emails to her and participating through skype in my classes, my students at the University of Brasilia loved her. Being from Brazil and having Japanese ancestors, I found resonance in her work. I will always miss her.


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