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Yemen at MESA 2021

There are several panels and papers on Yemen at the online MESA this year. For the entire program, go to

There are two AIYS sponsored panels:

1. [P6297] Rasulid Tribal Law, Sufism, Ottoman-era Yemenite Jews and Geography of the Tihāma: Studies in the History of Yemen

Thursday, 12/02/21 2:00 pm

▪ Yemeni Jewish Migration to East Africa and to Palestine during the Ottoman era (1880s-1918) by Eraqi-Klorman, Bat-Zion

▪ Zaydi Polemics against Sufism and the Ottomans in the 11th/17th Century: The Qasimi Imams and their Opponents by Haykel, Bernard A.

▪ Sufism in Yemen: A Struggle for Purity and Authenticity by Knysh, Alexander

▪ Identifying Previously Undocumented City Sites on the Yemen Tihamah by Stone, Francine

▪ A Mid-14th Century Tribal Customary Law Document, Aḥkām al-man‘, from Rasulid Yemen by Varisco, Daniel Martin


Yemen's diverse history throughout the Islamic era can easily be overshadowed by the attention that is understandably paid to the current humanitarian crisis, regarded as one of the worst in the world. During the war of the last five years much valuable heritage of Yemen has been damaged or destroyed. As a result it is all the more important that scholars continue to contribute to Yemen's history in every period. This panel provides a panorama extending from the Mahdid era of Zabīd, the 13th-15th century Rasulid realm, the role of Sufism over the years and Yemenite Jews in the late Ottoman era. One of the most intriguing Yemeni historians is ‘Umara b. al-Ḥasan, author of a major history of Yemen. Some of the places mentioned by ‘Umara on the pilgrimage route through the Tihama have not been identified. One paper looks at recent satellite data to identify previously unknown sites. A second paper moves forward into the 14th century realm of the Rasulid sultan al-Malik al-Afḍal, one of the dynasty's most prolific authors. In a mixed manuscript of various texts and excerpts, including items written by al-Afḍal, there is a brief text on tribal customary law at the time. This is the earliest known text providing details on Yemen's long tradition of customary law. Two papers focus on Yemeni Sufism. One deals with a polemical exchange between the Zaydi Imam al-Mansur al-Qasim b. Muhammad (d. 1029/1620) and an opponent around the topic of Sufism. The manuscript analyzed sheds light on later Zaydi theology, the sect’s attitude toward Sufism and the Ottomans, and offers insights into the political and intellectual history of 11th/17th-century Yemen. The second study on Sufism examines the claims for authenticity for both Yemeni religiosity and nationhood surrounding Sufi shrines in the Salafi-Sunni polemic influenced by the rise of the Wahhabi state and its influence in Yemen to this day. The final paper analyses Yemenite Jewish migration, a trend, which began in late 19th century, a few years following the Ottoman occupation in 1872. This led to the gradual diminishing of this local community, which had existed in Yemen since before the Islamic era. Jewish migration from Yemen resulted from various social disruptions, which increased during the Ottoman era, and was affected by global powers in the Red Sea basin.

2. [R6292] Challenges and Possibilities of Researching Yemeni Americans

Created by Waleed Mahdi

Friday, 12/03/21 2:00 pm

▪ While Detroit's Yemeni community is rightly associated with the auto industry, the labor niche which... by Sally Howell

▪ This presentation will shed light on the importance of studying Yemeni American cultural production as... by Waleed Mahdi

▪ The shifting configurations of Yemeni-American civic engagement in New York City demonstrate an atypical... by Ammar Naji

▪ Little research has been conducted on the experience of Yemeni Americans and fewer still have centered... by Gokh Amin Alshaif

▪ While the Yemeni American immigration experience seems to fit the typical immigration to the United States,... by Abdulhakem Alsadah

▪ The little scholarship on Yemenis in the United States has overwhelmingly been informed by the sojourner/settler... by Neama Alamri

This roundtable explores the current limitations in the study of Yemeni Americans and foregrounds emerging research efforts to examine the complexity of researching Yemeni American past and present experiences. That Yemeni Americans are understudied in both area studies (Middle East studies) and ethnic studies (Arab American studies) should not be understated. Much of what has been published around Arab Americans advance understandings of identity based on the experiences of those who originate from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. Despite their vibrant presence in and diasporic contributions to the Arab American community, Yemeni Americans have been the least theorized. This roundtable bridges this scholarly gap by forging a space for a conversation on the methodological challenges and research possibilities surrounding Yemeni Americans.

The roundtable features six contributors from various academic institutions that offer insights into their areas of research expertise. The first contributor examines the importance of histories of Yemeni American labor and migration, highlighting the connections between local challenges in the diaspora with global politics of empire. The second contributor contextualizes the history of Yemeni labor migration to the Great Lakes, its repercussions for family and community life, and the openings it creates in the present for new forms of social and transnational mobility. These two contributions lay a historical foundation for the other contributions that will focus on the contemporary heterogeneity of Yemeni American voices and experiences. This heterogeneity includes a reflection on the generational transformation among Yemeni Americans in Michigan, an examination of advocacy among Yemeni Americans in New York, an exposition of the resilience of Yemeni American females in California in seeking higher education, and a presentation of Yemeni American visual art in relation to questions of identity and agency.

Here are other MESA papers on Yemen:

[P6404] Forgotten War’s Tragedies in Yemen

Created by Khaled Al-Hammadi

Tuesday, 11/30/21 2:00 pm

▪ Yemen’s Conflict: Cascading Economic Crises by Abdulla, Ammar

▪ Tragedies of The Political Arrests over the wartime in Yemen by Al-Hammadi, Khaled

▪ Rule of Law in Yemen it the Time of War and Post-Conflict by Alshuwaiter, Mohammed

▪ Unresponsiveness of Foreign Aid to Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis by Nasser, Summer


When it comes to the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world, it goes to Yemen according to the UN agencies. This poorest country in the Arab world, located in the south-west corner of the Arabian Peninsula, fallen into a horrific armed conflict six years ago, between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iran-backed Ansar Allah (also known as Houthi group), who takes over the capital Sana’a on September 21, 2014.

The war between the two parties resulted in serious grave tragedies in most parts of the country, in major aspects of life including collapsing the economic situation, education system, rule of law, health care, security, and stability. All warring parties committed various violations for the law-of-war that amount to war crimes, in which the fear is at the top for continuing the series of war crimes with the possibility of impunity for the perpetrators.

Within the ruins and ashes of these battles, there are a lot of forgotten tragedies and untold stories, targeted a big amount of Yemeni people, that not getting enough consideration or care by mass media or by humanitarian agencies or not having access to covering it.

The majority of Yemenis lost hope of restoring the central government as a protective umbrella for the country as they believe that Yemen became a failure state with dividing forces between various armed groups.

This panel is aiming to shade over major of these tragic issues by experts, professional researchers, or journalists. The key issues planned to be discussed some of the impacts of the armed conflict on human rights, such as freedom of speech and the situation of detention centers, the rule of law and justice institutions, gender equality and women’s rule during the conflict, youth and education, international humanitarian aid and local initiatives, food security, health and the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economy and Yemeni currency.

Leaving the Margins: The Muhamasheen of Yemen and the Lessons They Hold by Alshaif, Gokh Amin In: [P6379] Interrogating Race in Arabian Peninsula studies

Wednesday, 12/01/21 11:30 am

• “The Empire ends in Yemen: Ottoman imperial sovereignty in southwest Arabia from the October 1918 Armistice to the proclamation of the Turkish Republic” by Kuehn, Thomas. In [P6625] New Perspectives on the History of the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula, 19th-20thc

Wednesday, 12/01/21 2:00 pm

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