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Tribute to Lily Ling

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 nomination letters 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 razor sharp 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 out entire community to honor Professor Ling. Thus, FTGS welcomes tributes and reflections, to be posted on our website, genderingworldpolitics.com. We welcome any and all reflections upon her work, and hope to create a lasting memorial. 

Sincerely, 

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

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