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AIYS Public Webinar: Mobility & Agency in Contemporary Yemeni Diaspora

Join the American Institute for Yemeni Studies for a public webinar on Saturday, December 16th at 11:30am EST. This webinar is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Meet our panelists:

  • Chair: Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

  • Waleed Mahdi, University of Oklahoma, Yemeni American Artivism between Urgency and Emergence

  • Bogumila Hall, Polish Academy of Sciences, Recipes for Refuge: Food and the Yemeni Diaspora

  • Gokh (Gukha) Amin Alshaif, University of California, Santa Barbara, Songs of Yearning: Narrating Yemen’s Global Histories through Rural Women’s Songs

  • Sara Swetzoff, Eastern Connecticut State University, Migrants, Refugees, Residents and Returnees: Ethio-Yemeni Community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Panel Description:

This panel forges a space for a conversation among leading and emerging scholars in Yemeni migration studies around meanings of mobility and agency in contemporary Yemeni diaspora. The conversation is multi-layered and explores various contexts of Yemeni voluntary and involuntary movements into Africa, Europe, and the United States. While one paper dwells on East Africa, as it examines the Yemeni refugee experiences in Ethiopia, the other three papers focus on the Yemeni lived experiences in European and American contexts, as the contributors pay close attention to culinary, sonic, and visual expressions of Yemeni identity in diaspora. The common thread tying the various papers is their emphasis on Yemeni migrant precarity and resistance. The first paper explores the complex interplay between culture, religion, and labor conditions in the case of Yemenis in Ethiopia. The second paper captures the classed and gendered undertones of Europe-based Yemeni refugees’ relations to food. The third paper locates the emergence of Yemeni visual art in the United States as a response to urgencies shaped by anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiments and the unfolding war conditions in Yemen. The final paper traces the production and circulation of Yemeni folk songs composed by Yemeni women in Yemen’s northern highlands and diaspora, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. Together, the contributors provide insights into various identity crises in contemporary Yemeni diasporic experiences, shaped by disruptions of Yemeni migrants’ mobility, their disconnections from the familiar and the intimate, and their experiences of longing for a home constantly fragmented by wars and corruption. Equally important, the contributors also articulate a complex sense of Yemeni diasporic resilience. The significance of this panel lies in its timely emphasis on the importance of theorizing contemporary Yemeni mobility and agency as transnational and vibrant. This sheds light on Yemeni experiences beyond contemporary scholarship’s extensive examination of Yemen as a failed state fractured through military division, sectarian unrest, tribal conflict, regional disunity, partisan polarization, and foreign intervention.

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