Practical solidarity : connections between Swedish social democratic women and women in the African National Congress of South Africa, 1960-1994

Lundin, Emma Elinor (2016) Practical solidarity : connections between Swedish social democratic women and women in the African National Congress of South Africa, 1960-1994. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis discusses the struggle to increase women’s participation in public and political life by focusing on the activism of women within the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP) and the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC) from 1960 until 1994. It argues that internationalism was key to these women’s success, providing them with a source of support and funding as well as a stage to develop policies away from overwhelmingly patriarchal national settings. Creating and steering political trends and discussions in international fora, and bolstered by the approval of others in the international community, the women who feature here gained a foot in the door of power and created environments conducive to their presence, abilities and voices. To uncover the tensions generated by women’s activism, the thesis investigates the social constructions of gender and how these fluctuated over the period discussed. Women’s attempts to increase their collective representation unveil the inner workings of mass-mobilising political organisations like the ANC and SAP. The thesis also discusses the impact of ideological developments in this era on women’s activism in SAP and the ANC and the increasing popularity of ‘identity’ liberation philosophies like second-wave feminism and black power. It finds that both were concepts these left-wing organisations struggled with, as they seemed to put individuals ahead of the collective. The thesis adds strength to the argument that women have been actively removed from history while their contributions have been consciously silenced in order to portray these political organisations as cohesive and united structures without inner divisions. Nevertheless, women’s attempts to become political leaders and senior members of party, parliamentary and government structures brought conflict and frustration, with every appointment fought for and hard lessons learned along the way. By recovering this history, the thesis challenges national and organisational mythmaking, within Sweden and SAP as well as South Africa and the ANC. It argues that the narratives of these political women’s activists complicate organisational and national histories, which emerge as oversimplified constructions of progress and unity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date of PhD award confirmed as 2016 by registry
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > History, Classics & Archaeology
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2016 13:55
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 12:47
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/170

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