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Marie Grace Brown

Assistant Professor
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 3637

Modern Middle East; gender and sexuality; dress and body culture; imperialism in Africa and the Middle East.


Research Profile:

Marie Grace Brown (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 2012) is a cultural historian of the Modern Middle East with a special interest in gender, empire, and body culture. Her current book project, Khartoum at Night: The Politics and Pleasures of Fashion in Imperial Sudan, 1900-1956, argues that northern Sudanese women’s experience of the British Empire was expressed on and through their bodies. In the early twentieth century, strict social standards of honor and protection discouraged women’s public presence. The advent of imperial rule reinforced existing gender divisions and hierarchies but also offered possibilities for women’s civic engagement through educational and professional programs. Taking advantage of these new socio-political opportunities, a generation of young Sudanese women used fashion as a political vehicle to navigate between long-standing cultural traditions and emerging images of modern womanhood. Brown’s focus on dress and the body is a conscious effort to move past the male-dominated textual source base which forms the foundation of so much historical scholarship and restore the voices of women to national narratives. Her work has been supported by grants from the American Association of University Women, Social Science Research Council, and Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

Teaching Profile:

Professor Brown teaches a wide array of classes on the (broadly defined) Middle East including courses on early Islamic empires, the fraught establishment of modern nation-states, political and social revolutions in the twentieth century, gender and sexuality, and high-class tourism. Brown works closely with the Kansas African Study Center and the Center for Global and International Studies and has advised both undergraduate and graduate students from across disciplines. She welcomes all students to her classes, especially those with little or no background in Middle East studies.

Recent Courses:

  • HIST 327: The Premodern Middle East
  • HIST 328: The Modern Middle East
  • HIST 480: Postcards from the Orient: Travelers’ Tales of the Middle East
  • HIST 481: From Harem to the Streets: Gender and Sexuality in the Modern Middle East

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