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New Thesis on Zaydi Governance

Congratulations to Ekaterina (Kate) Puhkovaia for a successful defense of her Ph.D. thesis entitled "BETWEEN SULTANS AND IMAMS: THE STATE AND POLITICAL ELITES IN YEMEN (LATE 15TH – MIDDLE OF 17TH CENTURY)" at the Dept. of Near Eastern Studies of Princeton University. Her advisor was Michael Cook.


Kawkaban, 1978. Photo by Daniel Martin Varisco


Below is the abstract of her thesis:


This dissertation analyzes how, despite geographical, social, and religious complexities that undermine the state in contemporary Yemen a stable political system existed in the region in the early modern period. It focuses on the transitions between three regimes in early modern Yemen – the Sharaf al-Dīn imamate (1506-1572), the Ottoman administration of Yemen (15381635), and the early Qasimid imamate (1597-1644) – and how these transformations affected local institutions and elites.


The dissertation makes three contributions. First, by relying on previously unstudied manuscript sources, it provides the first detailed analysis of the development of the Sharaf al-Dīn imamate, the last pre-Ottoman Zaydi state that succeeded in uniting Upper and Lower Yemen. Second, by combining Ottoman Turkish and Arabic sources, it analyzes the structure of Ottoman rule in Zaydi Yemeni, its influence on the development of Zaydi elites and the institutions of the Qasimid imamate. The dissertation thus provides a new angle to Yemeni state history that is usually treated in isolation from external influence. Thirdly, by analyzing a unique case of an Arab state gaining independence from Ottoman rule in the early modern period, this study contributes to the study of the development of imperial peripheries. By reconnecting Yemeni history with structural developments in the Ottoman Empire, it aims to enrich our understanding of the effects of Ottoman rule on the development of the Arab Middle East.

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