Stephanie J Urdang

Stephanie J Urdang (CNF) | Montclair, NJ

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Stephanie J Urdang was born in South Africa and, no longer willing to tolerate the apartheid state, she emigrated to the United States at the end of the 1960s at the age of 24. She is the author of two books on Africa including And Still They Dance: Women, War and the Struggle for Change in Mozambique as well as articles in magazines, newspapers and academic publications. Besides her work as a writer and journalist, she was the senior advisor on Gender and HIV/AIDS for UNIFEM, the United Nations women’s organization. She worked as a consultant on gender equality and development for the United Nations over three decades. Her memoir, Mapping My Way Home: Activism, Nostalgia, and the Downfall of Apartheid South Africa was published in November 2017. She lives in Montclair, NJ.


Mapping My Way Home: Activism, Nostalgia, and the Downfall of Apartheid South Africa (Monthly Review Press, 2017). Memoir. CNF.
And Still They Dance: Women, War and the Struggle for Change in Mozambique (Monthly Review Press, 1989). Social Science. Non-Fiction.
Oppression and Resistance: The Struggle of Women in Southern Africa (Praeger, 1982). Co-authored with Richard Lapchick. Social Science. Non-Fiction.

Fighting Two Colonialisms: The Women of Guinea-Bissau (Monthly Review Press, 1979). History. Non-Fiction.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

What a saga, both personal and political. Stephanie Urdang has lived the contradictions—the devastations and exaltations, the hard lessons—of southern African history since the 1960’s. From exile, she worked tirelessly to help defeat apartheid. From Africa, she has reported some extremely difficult stories, including life under aerial bombing by Portuguese colonial forces, and the subjection of women by progressive movements and governments. Her strength and decency and narrative gifts shine throughout this powerful memoir.
—William Finnegan, The New Yorker staff writer; Pulitzer Prize winner, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Stephanie Urdang not only had a ringside seat but was often in the ring for three of the great revolutionary upheavals of our time: the women’s movement, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the fight against colonialism elsewhere on the continent. She is wise enough to know that none of these struggles are yet fully finished, and her story of a life deeply engaged in them is moving and absorbing.
—Adam Hochschild, journalist; author, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

I couldn’t put down Stephanie Urdang’s brilliant memoir of her life as a South African immigrant and her work as a conscientious observer/witness to some of Africa’s most searing revolutionary movements to free countries from oppression. I loved this instructive, inspirational, energizing page-turner, this self-portrait of a woman committed to justice that will impel readers to empathic acts of their own.
—Louise DeSalvo, nonfiction writer; author, Gay Talese Award winning memoir, Vertigo; more recently, Chasing Ghosts: A Memoir of a Father, Gone to War

In Mapping My Way Home, Stephanie Urdang weaves together the threads of her amazing life of political activism with the struggles for self-determination in Africa with extraordinary eloquence, grace and disarming honesty. From her direct engagement in the struggle against apartheid in her native South Africa, through to covering the liberation war against Portuguese colonialism in Guinea Bissau, and witnessing firsthand the efforts to build of a new nation in Mozambique, Urdang offers a unique and very insightful perspective on these critical processes in the continent’s history.
—Alcinda Honwana, anthropologist, author, In the Time of Youth: Work, Social Change and Politics in Africa

I love Stephanie Urdang’s writing. She brought me right in from the first chapter. She makes nonfiction feel like the kind of fictional novel I don’t want to put down.
Ellen Friedland, documentary filmmaker, Delicious Peace

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