Hadhramaut and its Diaspora: Yemeni Politics, Identity and Migration

Hadhramaut Brehony

Muhammad Bin-Dohry, Noel Brehony, William Clarence-Smith, Thanos Petouris, Helen Lackner and James Spencer
Date: 25 April 2017Time: 5:45 PM
Finishes: 25 April 2017Time: 7:00 PM
Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Wolfson Lecture Theatre
Type of Event: Panel Discussion

The Hadhramaut Research Centre (HRC) has the pleasure to cordially invite you to the launch of its first academic book Hadhramaut and its Diaspora: Yemeni Politics, Identity and Migration (Edited by Noel Brehony).
Hadhramis have migrated for centuries in large numbers, establishing a diaspora that extends around the Indian Ocean, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. This migration has deeply affected the host countries as well as Hadhramaut itself. This book examines the Hadhrami diaspora, who travelled as religious scholars, traders, labourers and soldiers, to understand their enduring influence and the Hadhrami identity. In doing so, the book explores key aspects of Hadhrami history, including the impact of Yemeni nationalist movements, the significance of land reforms for the Hadhramis, the importance of social and tribal origins and how Hadhramis - as a Muslim community - have resisted colonial domination. Yet Hadhramaut, though a distinctive part of geographical Yemen, has not been able to use its population size, capabilities or resources to wield significant political influence in successive Yemeni regimes. This research asks if the current turmoil in Yemen following the Arab Spring, the growth of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and war involving a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, will produce even greater instability in the region or perhaps lead to a united Yemen, a restored South Yemen or even to Hadhramaut as an independent state. In posing these questions, Hadhramaut and its Diaspora: Yemeni Politics, Identity and Migration also explores what role the diaspora can play in shaping the future of their homeland.
Muhammad Bin-Dohry will provide an overview of the HRC and Noel Brehony will go on to introduce the book, he will speak briefly about the chapters of authors who are unable to attend the launch and will acknowledge the contribution by the late John Shipman to the editing of the book. William Clarence-Smith, Thanos Petouris, Helen Lackner and James Spencer will then discuss their contributions to the book. The book will be offered at a special reduced price at the launch. It will also be produced in electronic version at a reduced price.
Noel Brehony completed his PhD on Libya before joining the FCO. He was in the British Embassy Aden in the early days of the PDRY and has followed Yemen since then. His book Yemen Divided was published by I.B.Tauris (2011), and he also co-edited Rebuilding Yemen (2015) and, in Arabic by the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, Riyadh. He is a past chairman of the British Yemeni Society and the Council for British Research in the Levant and a past president of the British Society for Middle East Studies, and is on the Advisory Board of the London Middle East Institute at SOAS and the committee of the British Foundation for the Study of Arabia. He is Chairman of Menas Associates.
William G. Clarence- Smith is Professor of the economic history of Asia and Africa at SOAS University of London. He is Chief Editor of the Journal of Global History and is author of Islam and the Abolition of Slavery (2006) and, with Ulrike Freitag, coedited Hadhrami Traders, Scholars and Statesmen in the Indian Ocean, 1750s to 1960s (1997). He has published various articles and chapters on the Hadhrami diaspora in Southeast Asia and East Africa, and has studied a number of other diasporas. He is currently writing two books – one on Middle Eastern migrants to the colonial Philippines, and the other on Sayyid Wajih, Shaykh al- Islam of the Philippines, 1913– 16. He has also published on Islam, colonialism, slavery, sexuality, transport, manufacturing, agriculture and livestock.
Helen Lackner has worked mostly as a consultant on social aspects of rural development in over 30 countries. She lived and worked in all three Yemeni states, and her work has taken her to most of the country’s governorates at different times in the past four decades. She is now focusing on analysis and writing about contemporary Yemen. She published a book on the PDRY in the 1980s, and has edited two on the Republic of Yemen, most recently Why Yemen Matters: A Society in Transition (2014). She has also written chapters on various aspects of Yemeni development for other edited collections. Her analysis of recent developments has been published by International IDEA as Yemen’s “Peaceful” Transition from Autocracy: Could It Have Succeeded? (2016). She is now working on a book providing a background understanding of the crisis, to be published in 2017.
James Spencer read Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at Durham University (spending his year abroad in Sana’a), after which he joined the British Army. Having completing an MPhil in International Relations at Cambridge University, he then worked in risk and resilience consultancy in the Middle East and Africa. He is particularly interested in conflict, with a focus on ways to prevent or forestall it, and how best to recover from it.
Thanos Petouris is researching the nationalist, anti-colonial movement in South Arabia and the subsequent process of decolonisation from British rule in the years 1937–67. His focus is to explain the emergence of national identities during periods of decolonisation, using South Yemen as a case study. Thanos has provided advice to the FCO and DfID on Yemen since 2010, and was a regular contributor to the Yemen Forum at Chatham House. He has given lectures at the Universities of London (SOAS, LSE, Birkbeck), Harvard, Athens, Warwick and Exeter, and was one of the convenors of the Yemen: Challenges for the Future conference at SOAS in 2013. Thanos has been visiting Yemen and Hadhramaut regularly since 2005, depending on conditions on the ground. He has been a committee member of the British–Yemeni Society (2010– 15) and is an associate member of the Hadhramaut Research Centre at the al- Ahqaf University. His research has been funded by the Greek State Scholarships Foundation.
Muhammad Bin-Dohry is a former Senior Commercial Officer, at the British Embassy/Consulate, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia(1975-1988) and in 1990 joined the Saudi Embassy, Commercial Office in London as Commercial Consultant, he retired in 2010. He is the founder of the Hadhrami Diaspora Website (www.hadhramidiaspora.com), and one of the founders of Hadhramaut International Schools, Mukalla (September 2014), the first IGCSE English school in Hadhramaut. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Hadhramaut Research Centre (HRC), Mukalla, Yemen, since December 2013. He regularly writes reports on the current political, economic situation in Hadhramaut and Yemen. He also works in facilitating humanitarian/medical aid for Hadhramaut and other Yemeni provinces with various international organisations, charities and Hadhramis in the Diaspora. He is a member of the British-Yemeni Society as well as the Friends of Hadhramaut.
Chair: William Clarence-Smith, SOAS
Organiser: London Middle East Institute and the Hadhramaut Research Centre (HRC)
Contact email: vp6@soas.ac.uk
Contact Tel: 020 7898 4330/4490

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