Focusing on the relationship between gender and the state in the construction of national identity politics in twentieth-century northern Sudan, the author investigates the mechanisms that the state and political and religious interest groups employ for achieving political and cultural hegemony. Hale argues that such a process involves the transformation of culture through the involvement of women in both left-wing and Islamist revolutionary movements. In drawing parallels between the gender ideology of secular and religious organizations in Sudan, Hale analyzes male positioning of women within the culture to serve the movement. Using data from fieldwork conducted between 1961 and 1988, she investigates the conditions under which women's culture can be active, generative, positive expressions of resistance and transformation. Hale argues that in northern Sudan women may be using Islam to construct their own identity and improve their situation. Nevertheless, she raises questions about the barriers that women may face, now that the Islamic state is achieving hegemony, and discusses the limits of identity politics.