Modern Middle East; gender and sexuality; dress and body culture; imperialism in Africa and the Middle East.
Marie Grace Brown (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 2012) is a cultural historian of the Modern Middle East with a special interest in questions of gender, empire, and the body as historical text.
Her award-winning book, Khartoum at Night: Fashion and Body Politics in Imperial Sudan (Stanford University Press, 2017), traces gestures, intimacies, and adornment to give a history of northern Sudanese women’s lives under imperial rule. It argues that Sudanese women used their bodies to mark and make meaning of their positions in shifting socio-political systems of tradition, nation, modernity, and global connection. The result is a highly participatory tale of empire, characterized by economic and cultural exchange, mobility and civic opportunity, and evolving measures of beauty and womanhood.
Brown’s second book-length project continues the exploration of the relationship between bodies and imperial power. Sex on the Edge: Adventures in Romance in Imperial Sudan examines the romantic behaviors of European women in Sudan in the first half of the twentieth century. It posits that the public roles of female imperialists were accented by private desires. The same women who surveilled, controlled, and reformed Sudanese bodies refused imperial authority over their own bodies; and, instead, eagerly sought out opportunities for romantic experimentation and play. The project highlights the compromises of the imperial state and recasts European women as unpredictable, desiring subjects whose bodies simultaneously constructed and challenged imperial order.
Brown’s work has been supported by grants from the American Association of University Women, the Social Science Research Council, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
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.
- HIST 177: 100 Years of Spring: A Century of Protest in Egypt
- 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
- HIST 570: Middle East after WWII