Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen by Lisa Wedeen

By Lisa Wedeen

The govt. of Yemen, unified because 1990, is still mostly incapable of controlling violence or delivering items and prone to its inhabitants, however the regime keeps to undergo regardless of its fragility and peripheral place within the international political and monetary order. Revealing what holds Yemen jointly in such tenuous situations, Peripheral Visions indicates how voters shape nationwide attachments even within the absence of sturdy kingdom institutions.            Lisa Wedeen, who spent a yr and a part in Yemen gazing and interviewing its citizens, argues that nationwide team spirit in such susceptible states has a tendency to come up no longer from attachments to associations yet via either notable occasions and the normal actions of daily life. Yemenis, for instance, on a regular basis assemble to bite qat, a leafy drug just like caffeine, as they have interaction in wide-ranging and infrequently influential public discussions of even the main divisive political and social concerns. those energetic debates exemplify Wedeen’s competition that democratic, nationwide, and pious solidarities paintings as ongoing, performative practices that enact and reproduce a citizenry’s shared issues of reference. eventually, her skillful evocations of such practices shift recognition clear of a slender specialize in executive associations and electoral pageant and towards the great event of participatory politics.

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Extra resources for Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen (Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning)

Sample text

So too could they highlight the fact that there was no formal border between North and South until 1905 (although there were and continue to be geographical markers, such as mountain passes—the naqīl yislah ․ or the naqīl sumāra—that separate northern highlands from southern lowlands). In short, nationalist movements beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as the poetry, songs, and stories they fostered, drew on, but also invested novel political significance in, specific background conditions.

The partial conquest of North Yemen by the Ottomans from 1872 to 1918 did bear some resemblance to British imperial policies in the South, allowing us to consider the connections between colonial orders and competing notions of Yemeni-ness over time: Ottoman bureaucrats and intellectuals stressed the cultural inferiority of the local population and depicted the conquest as a civilizing mission that would ultimately enable locals to be assimilated into the empire as citizens (Kühn 2002, 192). As in British and French colonial cases, visions of assimilation were also counteracted by narratives emphasizing North Yemen’s status as a colony, the inhabitants of which were not meant to be integrated but simply ruled (Kühn 2003, 5).

Or, rather, what counted as Yaman or “national” remained an openly contested matter throughout the period under consideration here.

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