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Susanne. M. Klausen

Susanne. M. Klausen

The Canadian Committee on Womens and Gender History English Language Book Prize


Susanne. M. KlausenAbortion Under Apartheid: Nationalism, Sexuality, and Women’s Reproductive Rights in South Africa. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Abortion Under Apartheid is a beautifully written, multi-dimensional, and convincingly argued examination of women’s reproductive choices under the South African apartheid regime. Utilizing a rich range of sources including government policy, court records, medical records, and oral histories, Klausen argues that control over women’s bodies and sexuality was fundamental to the functioning of white supremacy and to the construction and maintenance of apartheid. Her nuanced research examines how race, location, and class impacted the experiences of women seeking abortions, demonstrating that women took an active and often creative role in deciding their reproductive fates even when their choices were constricted by government and medical policies. Klausen’s book contributes to a wide range of fields, including histories of South Africa, women, nationalism and citizenship, sexuality, health and medicine, and reproductive politics.

Honourable Mention
Elsie Paul in collaboration with Paige Raibmon and Harmony Johnson. Written as I Remember It: Teachings From the Life of a Sliammon Elder. UBC Press, 2014.

Written as I Remember It is a sophisticated and original contribution to indigenous history, the history of the Sliammon people, women’s history, and the methods and practice of oral history. The focus on Elsie Paul’s teachings and the way in which she tells her life story and the story of her community speaks to the power of oral history and transformative story-telling. Paige Raibmon’s introduction on the birth and evolution of the book models ethical collaborative research practices and challenges historiographical binaries of ‘tradition’ vs. ‘modernity’ in indigenous history. Written as I Remember It is a living history which reminds us that history is a fundamental part of our present lives.