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Narrating Political Lives: Theory and Practice of Women's Autobiography in South Africa

Selina Shieunda Makana


"Narrating Political Lives" examines how South African women's personal stories become part of their politics and how activism influences their personal lives by analyzing memoirs of four anti-apartheid activists: Ellen Kuzwayo's Call Me Woman (1985), Frances Baard's My Spirit is Not Banned (1986), Winnie Mandela's Part of My Soul Went With Him (1984) and Mamphela Ramphele's Across Boundaries (1995). These memoirs reveal the ways in which African women's personal stories shape arguments about their political ideologies and the strategies they employ in navigating both gendered and racial double binds of South African politics during the twentieth century. How do these women's personal narratives help us to understand the construction of gendered identity under apartheid, the relationship between individual agency and personal memory and the power of collective memory via memoir? Above all, how do these memoirs broaden our understanding of African women's contributions to Pan-Africanism in Africa?


African; Women; Autobiography; Feminism; Political; Activism; Nationalism

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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