Khartoum at Night: Fashion and Body Politics in Imperial Sudan
By Marie Grace Brown
2017, Stanford UP, 9-781-50360-264-9, $22.50 pb.
Reviewed by Marina Ali on September 15, 2019
This book about the influence of women’s fashion and clothing during Sudan’s colonial period is a timely study for today’s rapidly changing social climate. Marie Grace Brown provides a nuanced account of the impact of politics and economics on Sudanese women during the period of British colonial dominance, from 1899–1956, discussing how women used their clothes, shoes and even the spaces they occupied to effect change. She addresses topics such as women’s education and harems, explaining how they are meaningful aspects of Sudan’s history. She shows that seemingly benign things, such as marriage rites, hair braiding and childbirth, can have a significant impact on the national narrative. For example, there were marked differences in how Sudanese women gave birth before and after British occupation, which Brown asserts influenced the course of neonatal health for years to come. This intense reflection of Sudan’s history offers a fresh perspective on current events.