About The Syllabus

The “Yemen” perhaps most familiar to us is one situated at the foot of the Arabian Peninsula and within the confines of Middle East Studies. It is a Territorial Yemen that orients its histories northwards towards the broader “Arab” and Islamic world. But what if we were to reorient Yemen southward towards the Indian Ocean? What histories might an “Oceanic Yemen” reveal that a Territorial Middle Eastern Yemen obstructs? When Yemen shares its world with East Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia instead of the Gulf and Levant, what individuals become newly included in the category of the “Yemeni”? The Oceanic Yemen Syllabus presents tools to help us grapple with these questions.

An Oceanic Yemen does not deny the significance of the more familiar Territorial Yemen. Instead, an Oceanic Yemen is one of the multitudes of Yemens that The Global Yemen Project (TGYP) makes legible. In both Middle East Studies and Indian Ocean Studies literature, histories of particular Yemenis are presented while others are marginalized. However, this syllabus aims to show how we can come to understand the complex and rich social lives of Yemenis when we traverse the boundaries of area studies. What we come to find is that Hadhrami merchants, African Zar priestesses, Adeni port workers, rural women of the highlands, Jabarti street performers, Mokha coffee traders, and marginalized public servants become legible as important historical actors. In this way, an Oceanic Yemen demystifies and de-exceptionalize both Yemenis and Islam to instead reveal an everchanging and fluid Yemen.

The collection of work included below begins to do this work. TGYP will continue to update this syllabus with monographs, articles, novels, and movies that educators and students alike can use to begin unraveling Yemen’s global histories.