Islam and Gender in Colonial Northeast Africa, Silvia Bruzzi provides an account of Islamic movements and gender dynamics in the context of colonial rule in Northeast Africa. The thread that runs through the book is the life and times of Sittī ‘Alawiyya al-Mīrġanī (1892-1940), a representative of a well-established transnational Sufi order in the Red Sea region. Silvia Bruzzi gives us not only a social history of the colonial encounter in the Eritrean colony, but also a wider historical account of supra-regional dynamics across the Red Sea, the Ethiopian hinterland, and the Mediterranean region, using a wide range of fragmentary historical materials to make an important contribution towards filling the gap that currently exists in women's and gender history in Muslim societies.
The Encoded Cirebon Mask: Materiality, Flow, and Meaning along Java’s Islamic Northwest Coast, Laurie Margot Ross situates masks and masked dancing in the Cirebon region of Java (Indonesia) as an original expression of Islam. This is a different view from that of many scholars, who argue that canonical prohibitions on fashioning idols and imagery prove that masks are mere relics of indigenous beliefs that Muslim travelers could not eradicate. Making use of archives, oral histories, and the performing objects themselves, Ross traces the mask’s trajectory from a popular entertainment in Cirebon—once a portal of global exchange—to a stimulus for establishing a deeper connection to God in late colonial Java, and eventual links to nationalism in post-independence Indonesia.