La Belle Africaine: The Sudanese Giraffe who went to France

In 1826, Mehmet Ali of Egypt sent a giraffe from somewhere in what is now the Republic of the Sudan to King Charles X of France. The first live giraffe ever to reach France, she arrived when public museums and zoos were emerging, inspiring scholarly and popular interest in science and the world beyond French borders. This article studies the career and “afterlives” of this giraffe in France and relative to giraffes at large in the Sudan, in order to trace a Franco-Sudanese history that has stretched from the early nineteenth century to the present. At the same time, viewing this connected history in the aftermath of the 2011 secession of South Sudan, when colonial and
national borders appear contingent and subject to change, this article approaches the Sudan as a zone (as opposed to a fixed country) within global networks of migration involving people, other animals, things, and ideas.

Publish DateMay 28, 2021
Last UpdatedMay 28, 2021
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