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Review of Communist Women in Scotland

Davidson, Neil (2011) Review of Communist Women in Scotland. [Review]

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Abstract

This article is an extended review Neil Rafeek's posthumously published book, Communist Women in Scotland. Based on his PhD, the first to be awarded for oral history at the University of Strathclyde, the book discusses female participation in the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in Scotland, mainly in the period since the Second World War. This review emphasises how valuable the book is, both as a reminder of the importantance of the CPGB in the Scottish labour movement, despite its relatively small size, and as a record of the experiences of the women who are its subjects. It goes on to argue that, despite the book's undoubted usefulness as a documentary record, the fundamental organising concepts around which Rafeek structured his book-the distinctiveness of being Scottish, the specific experience of women and the politics of Communism-all reveal problems with his approach which are ultimately traceable to his uncritical attitude to the orthodox Communist tradition.