Marie Grace Brown
Khartoum at Night
Fashion and Body Politics in Imperial Sudan
Stanford University Press 2017
New Books in African StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network December 4, 2017 Nadirah Mansour
Marie Grace Brown’s Khartoum at Night: Fashion and Body Politics in Imperial Sudan (Stanford University Press, 2017) is in many ways a history of fashion in Sudan, but in so many ways, its much more than that. It is the story of women in Sudan, as well as the story of their bodies and movement. Brown weaves together women’s education, women’s health, activism and more through the tobe, a popular, modest form of dress that wrapped around a woman’s head and body. She reads textiles like texts and challenges us to both read existing primary sources differently and seek out new primary sources. Khartoum at Night shows us how the centrality of the tobe shaped everyday life, but how the tobe itself was shaped by continuity and rupture in Sudanese society. What we have as a result is a story that gives agency to its actors and ultimately, the story of imperial Sudan.
Nadirah Mansour is a graduate student at Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies working on the global intellectual history of the Arabic-language press. She tweets @NAMansour26 and produces another Middle-East and North Africa-related podcast: Reintroducing.