Printable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=51035
How do bodies record history and place? What kinds of stories can we tell that emphasize the performed political capital, or “strategic choreography,” of women’s bodies and the fashions that adorn them as they move through the world? Marie Grace Brown’s beautifully written monograph, Khartoum At Night: Fashion and Body Politics in Imperial Sudan, is a history of northern Sudanese women’s bodies in motion during the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899-1956).
In the first English-language monograph to focus on women as actors in Sudanese history, Brown nimbly weaves the quotidian movements of Sudanese women back into a historiographical tapestry that has previously kept them “fixed at home,” unconnected to the political world around them (p. 174). To do so, she engages with interdisciplinary feminist scholarship focusing on the connections of “the intimate and the global” headed by scholars such as Antoinette Burton, Tony Ballantyne, and Ann Laura Stoler (pp. 6-7). Throughout the book, Brown treats flesh as a subject of historical inquiry—one that was sometimes messy, unruly, and occasionally bursting out of the confining seams of empire.