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November 2017

Mapping My Way Home: Activism, Nostalgia, and the Downfall of Apartheid South Africa

By Stephanie Urdang

Urdang’s memoir maps out her quest for the meaning of home and for the lived reality of revolution with empathy, courage, and a keen eye for historical and geographic detail. This is a personal narrative, beautifully told, of a journey traveled by an indefatigable exile who, while yearning for home, continues to question where, as a citizen of both South Africa and the United States, she belongs. “My South Africa!” she writes, on her return in 1991, after the release of Nelson Mandela, “How could I have imagined for one instant that I could return to its beauty, and not its pain?”

https://monthlyreview.org/product/mapping_my_way_home/

Africa/Global: Recent Books Read & Recommended

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And STILL They Dance: Women, War, and the Struggle for Change in Mozambique

By Stephanie Urdang

When Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975, did the new government live up to promises to liberate women? asks South African-born journalist Urdang, who visited the country several times from 1980 to 1987. Her book is somewhat disorganized, skipping around chronologically as she covers the colonial era, independence and the status of women. But she is a perceptive and talented reporter who offers moving portraits of Mozambican women, many of whom work grueling days in the fields and relentlessly taxing nights as homemakers and mothers in a technology-poor society. 

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Fighting Two Colonialisms: Women in Guinea-Bissau

By Stephanie Urdang

‘This book makes a major contribution to understanding the connection and interplay between socialism and feminism, and class and sex. In Fighting Two Colonialisms, Urdang focuses on women struggling to transform their society, actively participating in the building of a socialist society. Urdang’s book presentsthe actual experiences of African women in a non-theoretical way. The central lesson we can all learn from the people of Guinea- Bissau is that women's issues cannot be relegated to the periphery of a socialist movement. It is not enough to say that socialist revolution sets the basis for women’s liberation, but equally that feminism (whether called that or not) is basic to true socialist transformation.

….  Urdang provides a good balance between general back- ground information, her experiences and observations, and Guineans own  stories and perceptions. Although clearly excited by the advances made,  she is not blind to the continuing limitations on women. … A bonus in this book is the collection of photographs showing people at work transforming  their country.’

Kathleen Sheldon, University of California, Los Angeles (Ufahamu, Journal of African Studies, 1980)