Academic journal article African Studies Review

Images of Empire: Photographic Sources for the British in the Sudan

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Images of Empire: Photographic Sources for the British in the Sudan

Article excerpt

M. W. Daly and Jane R. Hogan. Images of Empire: Photographic Sources for the British in the Sudan. Leiden: Brill, 2005. Sources for African History Series. 391 pp. Photographs. Map. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $109.00, Cloth.

The photographs in this interesting and useful book have been selected from the Sudan Archive at Durham University where the co-author, Jane Hogan, is the assistant keeper. When the British left the Sudan in 1954-55 they returned to a homeland unsympathetic to their mission. Nevertheless, some among them believed that the record should be preserved. On his retirement from the Sudan Government Railways, Richard Hill became a lecturer in history at Durham and initiated the archive on which this book is based. Over the years, other families and their descendants sent additional papers and photographs to Durham, forming a valuable record not only for historians but also for policymakers interested in development issues. Housed here, for instance, safe and available to aid organizations, are the Jonglei Investigation Team's multidisciplinary findings on the Southern Sudan.

The book begins with an informative and succinct introduction by Martin Daly. Eleven chapters follow: "The Journey Out," "Khartoum," "The North," "The South," "Transport," "Official Architecture," "The British Connection," "The Sudan at War," "Leisure," "British Women in the Sudan," and "Departures." Each chapter is well illustrated with an introduction and informative captions. Notes identify most of the major people and give brief accounts of their careers. There is a useful reminder that Egypt provided the bulk of the funds for the basic sinews of communication in the first two decades of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium. But after 1924, with the murder of Sir Lee Stack in Egypt and with mutiny and unrest in the Sudan, the partners in the Condominium became estranged, greatly complicating the political process.

Daly submits somewhat to revisionist temptation, implying that Sudan officials were not as devoted or hard working as they appeared. Much is made of how comfortable Khartoum was. Indeed, it is still a delightful place from November to March, but baking hot with occasional dust storms (there are three photographs of these) the other seven months. In the early 1950s there was only one air-conditioned house in Khartoum, that of the general manager of Shell. …

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