The War in Yemen: Third Year On   
Date: 24 May 2017 Time: 04:00 PM - 05:30 PM  
Speaker(s): Dr Susanne Dahlgren
Academic Scholar
Middle East Institute, NUS
Venue: MEI Conference Room, Level 6
29 Heng Mui Keng Terrace
Block B #06-06
Singapore 119620


While largely discussed as a “Saudi-Iranian proxy war” in world media, the war in Yemen (2015-) is a civil war, an outcome of elite power struggle that has involved foreign intervention. Still, understanding the Yemeni political crisis should not be limited to the elite in-fighting. Equally important is the unprecedented rise of a civil society, manifest in local security provisions and in municipal self-governance. Such activities, based on individual or small group initiative, have engaged all social strata, young and old, and in many parts of the country, witnessed women’s unprecedented participation. This promises good for the future rebuilding of the country, and speaks against the failed state thesis. Still, most of the problems the country faces today are life threatening, such as famine and water scarcity, or risk the future of the entire nation such as the collapse of health and educational systems and destruction of agricultural lands, and remain without the reach of the local community efforts. In my talk, I suggest to look at the Yemeni crisis from a Gramscian perspective, meaning that I analyse the uprisings of 2008 (the Southern Cause), 2011 (the Change Revolution) and 2014 (the Huthi Revolt) as “wars of position” (Gramsci 1971) against the political system. In respect to each popular uprising, the regime has managed to survive, much to the help of foreign powers, whether in the Gulf or overseas. To stop the vicious circle, I argue, foreign powers interested in lasting peace in Yemen need to reconsider their stakes.


About the Speaker

Susanne Dahlgren is an anthropologist interested in moral questions, law and politics. She studied anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Helsinki where she received her PhD in 2004. She has been a fellow in the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and at the Academy of Finland. Her PhD project was published as Contesting Realities. The Public Sphere and Morality in Southern Yemen (2010). Her recent work has involved theorizing the Arab revolutions as part of a project on ‘Geographies of Gender in the Arab Revolutions’, convened by Frances Hasso and Zakia Salime. A recent photo essay was published in on ‘Rebels without Shoes: A Visit to South Yemen’s Revolution Squares.’ At MEI she has worked on a project entitled ‘Post-Socialism in the Arabian Peninsula: the Politics of Islam and Modernisation in South Yemen.’

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