Gabriele vom Bruck
F o r e w o r d b y F r e d H a l l i d a y
Cover design by Eugene Kuo
Cover photograph Muhammad b. Muhammad Zabarah,
historian (right), and his son Ahmad, the late Mufti of
the Republic of Yemen, 1940s.
middle eastern studies
“This highly original book offers fresh insight into how traditional ideas of person, society, and responsibility, reworked in the cauldron of revolution and rapidly changing economic and political conditions, remain central to understanding contemporary society and identity politics.
Always clear and accessible, Vom Bruck integrates the perspectives of women and men, seamlessly showing how Yemenis of different generations and positions in society struggle to interpret what happened to
the Yemen-and to themselves-in the past. This riveting account offers vital keys to understanding contemporary social, religious, and political trends in the Yemen and elsewhere.” —Dale Eickelman, Dartmouth College “A splendid case study that traces the transformation of a ruling elite in the era of nation states in the Middle East. Whereas previous books on Yemen focused mainly on tribes, this study elucidates how members of the religious elite in North Yemen, the Sayyids, have coped with the demise of their power following the 1962 revolution.
Based on extensive field-work and a large number of interviews, this work sheds light on the fears, hopes, and predicament of an elite in search of a place for itself in the new republican order. Vom Bruck’s narrative is engaging, and her analysis is always sound and balanced.” —Yitzhak Nakash, Brandeis University This book tells the story of a Yemeni hereditary elite which was overthrown in the 1962 revolution in North Yemen. For over a millennium, they had enjoyed exclusive rights to the leadership of the Imamate, the religiously sanctioned state. Following the violent removal from power of King Faysal of Iraq in 1958, the overthrow of the Yemeni Imamate—the longest lasting Hashimite rule in the Middle East—confirmed the decline of Hashimite power. Islam, Memory, and Morality in Yemen highlights the personal predicament of those targeted by the revolution, in which they served as the foil for the new regime’s moral and political ascendancy. What is their sense of “past” and “self” in a transformed political setting where, in some respects, the mark of distinction has become a mark of disrepute? Focusing on the cultural politics of memory, the book explores how members of the elite remember in the process of making sense of their current lives and formulating responses to adversity.
Gabriele vom Bruck is lecturer in Anthropology of the Middle East, Department
of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh.