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Marieke Brandt

Khawlān and Jumā'ah are two out of eight tribes of the Khawlān b. 'Āmir confederation in Southwest Arabia, the territories of five of them being in Yemen and three in Saudi Arabia. Whereas the Yemeni tribes Munabbih, Sahār and Rāzih are well explored, little is known about the tribal structures of Jumā'ah and the homonymous tribe Khawlān. This article provides an overview of the present-day tribal structures of Khawlān and Jumā'ah, and traces their historical formation through comparison with the respective information available in the historical and geographical works of the Yemeni geographer and historian al-Hasan al-Hamdānī, dating back to the tenth century AD. The results of this study show that Jumā'ah and Khawlān were historically open to processes of social, spatial and genealogical changes. Whereas Jumā'ah can trace its lineage directly back to the ancestor Khawlān b. 'Āmir, Khawlān tribe represents a much looser entity of mutual alliances, which corresponds to its lack of genealogical coherence. Among Khawlān and Jumā'ah, the rhetoric of shared 'ancestry' is thus to a greater or a lesser extent a statement of identity and follows the general Middle Eastern practice in conceptualising groups as kin.

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Reflections on Fieldwork in Yemen

The Genealogy of a Diary in Response to Rabinow's Reflections of Fieldwork in Morocco

Daniel Martin Varisco

In preparation for writing an ethnographic monograph on fieldwork in Yemen, I compare and contrast my field diary, written in 1978–9, with Paul Rabinow’s Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco (1977). The underlying question is what post-fieldwork reflections reflect meaningfully about the immediacy of ethnographic fieldwork? I criticise the reflexivist trope of privileging ‘writing culture’ over the significance of ‘being there’ in the field. Point by point, I examine the implications of graduate training in anthropology, culture shock, health problems, language skills, the unreflective male voice, visual ethnography and the rhetoric of narrative writing.

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Sports Diplomacy and Emergent Nationalism

Football Links between the Two Yemens, 1970-1990

Thomas B. Stevenson and Abdul Karim Alaug

In the 1970s and 1980s, North and South Yemen appeared to be two states pursuing opposing, sometimes hostile, economic and political policies. Then, in 1990, they suddenly united. This article analyses sport diplomacy as an instrument in opening institutional contacts between the two governments and as a venue for conveying important socio-political and historical messages. Cross-border football contests reinforced the largely invented notion of a single Yemen derived from pre-Islamic kingdoms. This idea remains a foundation of Yemeni nationalism and a base of Yemeni national identity.

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Tricking Time, Overthrowing a Regime

Reining in the Future in the Yemeni Youth Revolution

Ross Porter

Based on research at the heart of the 2011 revolution in Yemen, this article explores how a capacity to inhabit the future culminated in a collective act of temporal deception on the part of the revolutionaries. Contrary to the prevalent assumption that the future is something that is worked towards, aspired to, emerging or lying in wait at the end of a distant telos, revolutionary life in Yemen asserts that the future can itself be a way of being, but in the present. Upholding the future involved dramatic acts of selflessness whose value lay not just in where they would lead, but in the acts themselves. This fusion of means and ends, presents and futures, ultimately bred a capacity for endurance that defied the temporal expectations of the regime.

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Editorial

Open-Themed Issues

Soheila Shahshahani

In the 1970s and 1980s, North and South Yemen appeared to be two states pursuing opposing, sometimes hostile, economic and political policies. Then, in 1990, they suddenly united. This article analyses sport diplomacy as an instrument in opening institutional contacts between the two governments and as a venue for conveying important socio-political and historical messages. Cross-border football contests reinforced the largely invented notion of a single Yemen derived from pre-Islamic kingdoms. This idea remains a foundation of Yemeni nationalism and a base of Yemeni national identity.

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The Silent Spring

Why Pro-democracy Activity Was Avoided in Gulf Nations during the Arab Spring

Charles Mitchell, Juliet Dinkha and Aya Abdulhamid

This article explores the Arab Spring uprisings that started in late 2010, and investigates why pro-democracy movements were circumvented in most Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Our research is qualitative in nature, and looks into the antecedents of the revolts in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, and Yemen to ascertain why revolutionary activity was precluded in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. Through the utilization of academic research, news sources, governmental, intergovernmental organization, and international nongovernmental organization reports and policy papers, we conclude that the generous allocations of public goods and the extant and reactive government policies during the Arab Spring period successfully preempted revolutionary activities in the Gulf. In this article, we also examine the only Gulf country outlier, Bahrain, by investigating what policies and conditions led to outbreaks of large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in that nation.

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Maryon McDonald

The Special Section that follows focuses on temporal agency and does so in a new way through the idea of ‘time-tricking’. This collection of articles, guest edited by Felix Ringel and Roxanne Moroşanu, draws ethnographic attention to ways in which people attempt to modify, manage, bend, speed up, slow down or otherwise structure or restructure the times they are living in. Examples are taken from the UK, Greece and Yemen. The ‘deadlines’ that journal production imposes readily become part of the ethnography, too. More generally, Laura Bear’s Afterword to this section suggests that a focus on time-tricking can help us to understand the technologies of imagination, the ethics and the inequalities of what is generally seen as secular and ‘capitalist’ modern time.

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A Minority within a Minority

Reflections on Shephardi Identity

David Abulafia

Anyone who observes the way the term 'Sephardi' is used will rapidly become aware that there is a fundamental contrast between its use to describe a group of second-class citizens in modern Israel, and its use to describe the creators of a 'Golden Age' in Spanish in the tenth and eleventh centuries. The modern Israeli press can even be found using the term 'Sephardim' to describe Jews from Ethiopia, Yemen and India, the first group of whom have never even lived under Muslim rule, and who have their own very distinctive traditions. In part, this turns on the confusion of terminology that was created by the emergence of two Chief Rabbinates in Israel, with one looking after the Ashkenazim, and the other, the Rishon le-Zion, concerned with Sephardim and the rest.

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Anne Meneley

In Zabid, Republic of Yemen, women often succumb to an illness called 'fright' (faja'a) when they or their loved ones are, or are believed to be, in danger. The shock of a sudden threat to oneself or one's family, through illness or accident, is said to cause the soul to shake, leaving one vulnerable to 'fright'. This essay traces women's stories about their fright experiences and their recovery (or failure to recover). Zabidi women hold to a worldview inflected by the tenet that 'all is from God', yet ironically fright illnesses, their treatment, and narratives about them dwell uncomfortably on the difficulty of accepting the will of God when it means the loss of a loved one.

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Gilberto Conde

This article looks back at the 2011 Arab Spring where the movements that brought hope to the region and beyond seem to have gone astray. The military has taken over in Egypt, while Libya, Syria and Yemen have descended into civil strife with tremendous human costs. Bahrain has witnessed repression that has overwhelmed the opposition, and while Tunisia, the country where Arab Spring began, has avoided the violence characterizing the aforementioned states, change has remained rather limited. As for other countries that rode on the same wave of mobilizations, hopes for democratic transformation have been subdued in somewhat less violent contexts but with varying degrees of pressure from the state. This article examines what has happened to the Arab Spring countries, why and what is required to democratically transform the region.