A Border Passage

Author : Kylie Alexandra

A Border Passage by Leila Ahmed forms both a memoir and historical account of the ßuctuations experienced within Egyptian society during the second half of the 20th century. Being primarily a memoir, however, the tides of change are felt, observed, and interpreted by Ahmed as she matures through adolescence to adulthood. The signiÞcance
of this account is found through the intersecting variables and conßuence of age, gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, and social status; all of which manifested in the unique social-historical conditions encountered by Ahmed. Her memoir does not pretend to be anything other than what it is: her subjective experience of social change underscored by the extant political reality of her time. Many other different interpretations could be offered by those who lived through different manifestations of the variables described above. Yet what is most profound is not the variables themselves but the ßuid manner in which they came together to inform and produce AhmedÕs worldview.
With this in mind, I Þnd it best to begin at the memoirÕs end; to offer a clear picture of the fruition of AhmedÕs experiences and then to work backwards through her journey in order to try to understand how she got there.
The Þnal chapter, ÒFrom Abu Dhabi to AmericaÓ presents Ahmed accepting a part-time teaching position in the WomenÕs Studies department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The academic Þeld of WomenÕs Studies was in its
early stages, transitioning from a social movement expressed primarily through the Òinternally contentious cargo of debatesÓ to the intellectual and academic arena (294).

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