Barbaric Custom and Colonial Science

Teaching the Female Body in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan

in Social Analysis
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This chapter explores the process of reforming ‘refractory’ female bodies in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. It discusses the goals of the Midwives Training School in Omdurman and the methods of the British women who established it during the 1920s and 1930s in light of ethnographic data from the rural north. I suggest that while midwifery training had contradictory outcomes and failed to under- mine the logic that underpinned the practice of pharaonic (female) circumcision, some aspects of it became woven into the fabric of Sudanese daily life in unexpected ways. Parties to the colonizing venture looked, inescapably, in two directions at once: to the imme- diate situation in which they were mutually engaged, and to the respective cultural contexts of health from whence they came and in which they remained grounded.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology