“Keep These Women Quiet:” Colonial Modernity, Nationalism, and the Female Barbarous Custom

“Keep These Women Quiet:” Colonial Modernity, Nationalism, and the Female Barbarous Custom © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI: 10.1163/156920811X578494 Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World 9 (2011) 97–151 brill.nl/hawwa “Keep These Women Quiet:” Colonial Modernity, Nationalism, and the Female Barbarous Custom Abdullahi Ali Ibrahim University of Missouri ibrahima@missouri.edu Abstract This paper revisits the Rufa’a revolt/riot (1946) in the Sudan led by Mahmoud M. Taha, the elderly Islamic, modernist reformer executed by President Nimerie in 1985, to abolish legislation against female circumcision imposed by the British. Although revered as a mar- tyr for his courage facing death for his beliefs, Taha has been unrelentingly castigated for opposing a measure that intended allegedly to rescue women from this barbarous custom. Not even Taha’s subsequent unprecedented labor for women’s rights took the edge off this criticism of his stand on female circumcision in 1946. The paper will argue that this conflicted view about Tahas’ feminist legacy arose from a sorrowful dichotomy in scholarship about the Sudan. The culturally sensitive feminist writ- ings about female circumcision in the country failed to influence the narrative of Sudanese nationalism. In this narrative colonial modernity’s claim to civilize the “natives” (like rescu- ing colonial women from their male oppressors) has been http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hawwa Brill

“Keep These Women Quiet:” Colonial Modernity, Nationalism, and the Female Barbarous Custom

Hawwa, Volume 9 (1-2): 97 – Jan 1, 2011

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2011 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1569-2078
eISSN
1569-2086
D.O.I.
10.1163/156920811X578494
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI: 10.1163/156920811X578494 Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World 9 (2011) 97–151 brill.nl/hawwa “Keep These Women Quiet:” Colonial Modernity, Nationalism, and the Female Barbarous Custom Abdullahi Ali Ibrahim University of Missouri ibrahima@missouri.edu Abstract This paper revisits the Rufa’a revolt/riot (1946) in the Sudan led by Mahmoud M. Taha, the elderly Islamic, modernist reformer executed by President Nimerie in 1985, to abolish legislation against female circumcision imposed by the British. Although revered as a mar- tyr for his courage facing death for his beliefs, Taha has been unrelentingly castigated for opposing a measure that intended allegedly to rescue women from this barbarous custom. Not even Taha’s subsequent unprecedented labor for women’s rights took the edge off this criticism of his stand on female circumcision in 1946. The paper will argue that this conflicted view about Tahas’ feminist legacy arose from a sorrowful dichotomy in scholarship about the Sudan. The culturally sensitive feminist writ- ings about female circumcision in the country failed to influence the narrative of Sudanese nationalism. In this narrative colonial modernity’s claim to civilize the “natives” (like rescu- ing colonial women from their male oppressors) has been

Journal

HawwaBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2011

Keywords: gender; Marxism; post-colonialism; imperial feminists; colonial modernization; indigenous practice; colonial knowledge; civilizing mission; modern and tradition; colonial nonsense; female circumcision; colonialism; other nationalisms

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