RESEARCH WITH IMPACT | Trouble Brewing: The ICU, the 1925 Bloemfontein Riots and the Women Question

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It is said that in order to understand the plight of women today, we need to understand the historical roots and context of women's struggles from the past. In a book chapter titled, "Trouble Brewing: The ICU, the 1925 Bloemfontein Riots and the Women Question," University of Fort Hare (UFH) Associate History Professor Nicole Ulrich investigates how the Bloemfontein branch of the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU), related to local black proletarian women.

The chapter by Prof Ulrich forms part of a collection of thirteen original chapters by major scholars who examine different aspects of the ICU’s record in the 1920s and 1930s, assessing its achievements and its failures in relation to the post-apartheid present that are published in a book titled: Labour Struggles in Southern Africa, 1919-1949: New Perspectives on the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU). The collection seeks to provide fresh perspectives on the ICU, which is recognised as the largest black political organisation in Southern Africa before the 1940s.

Prof Ulrich joined the UFH History Department as a Senior Lecturer on 1 September 2021 and is currently the Deputy HOD. She received her PhD from WISER (Wits) and has held a visiting fellowship (Centre of African Studies) at the University of Cambridge.

Her research interest lies in the political ideas and identities of commoners and labouring classes in southern Africa and their location in global traditions of radicalism and flows of labour - an area she has published extensively. As a lecturer, Prof Ulrich has developed and taught courses at postgraduate and undergraduate level on topics such as Africa and the modern world, African maritime history, and labour history.

Read the full chapter here: