Hadhramaut and Its Diaspora: Yemeni Politics, Identity and Migration ed. by Noel Brehony (review)
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Hadhramaut and Its Diaspora: Yemeni Politics, Identity and Migration, edited by Noel Brehony. London: I. B.Tauris, 2017. 320 pages. $99.

This book is a collection of chapters edited by Noel Brehony, a Middle East specialist and diplomat, which describe the history and significance of Yemen's Hadramawt region and its diaspora. The book's contributors have made significant contributions to Hadrami studies, which gained some scholarly momentum after the unification of North and South Yemen in 1990, benefiting from the greater degree of political liberalization. Hadramawt is Yemen's largest governorate and has distinctive cultural and historical legacies. The valley of Hadramawt stretches over 370 miles, which has that helped preserve a unique local Hadrami identity for centuries. Two distinct sultanates, the Qu'ayti and Kathiri, dominated Hadrami politics until the early 1960s. Very few Arab diasporas have made as remarkable a cultural impact on other communities outside Yemen as Hadramis. Emigrants from Hadramawt reached such southeast Asian countries as Indonesia and Malaysia and also settled in India, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia in large numbers. The book is divided into three main parts with a total of 10 chapters, in addition to the introduction and conclusion.

The first part of the book describes the role of Hadramawt within Yemeni politics since the 1960s, the idea of Hadrami exceptionalism, and the social structure and migration in the Hadramawt region. In Chapter 1, Saadaldeen Talib and Noel Brehony address how both Sana'a and 'Aden brought Hadramawt under the influence of Yemeni politics. Although some voices have recently raised the issue of independence for Hadramawt, it is unlikely in the near future because of the complexity of the current crisis in Yemen. In Chapter 2, Thomas Petouris discusses the distinction between premodern and modern Hadrami identity as a result of changes in Hadrami diasporic communities and the rearrangement of social relations in Hadramawt. In Chapter 3, Helen Lackner analyzes the impact of 1970s socialist policies in South Yemen on overall Hadrami social relations and structures. She also discusses the adoption of land reform policies that were among the key variables leading to social change in Hadramawt.

Part two of the book highlights various aspects of life in diasporic Hadrami communities. In Chapter 4, Nico Kaptein examines the atlas designed by Sayyid 'Uthman of Batavia, arguing that this effort was intended to help reconnect Hadrami diaspora in Indonesia with the ancestral homeland of Hadramawt. The atlas consisted of four sheets depicting maps of the world, the Arabian Peninsula, Hadramawt, and an imagined settlement for Hadrami migrants. In Chapter 5, Kazuhiro Arai addressed important relations between Hadrami migrants of Indonesia and Hadramawt. Scholars of the Hadrami diaspora agree that this relationship waned significantly after World War II and during the rule of the Yemeni Socialist Party from the early 1970s until the unification of Yemen. Based on his personal observations in Indonesia during 2014/15, Arai describes the operation of an important social group among Hadrami migrants, the sada (plural of sayyid), who are considered familial descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. Arai also describes visits to Indonesia by prominent Hadrami sada scholars and publications by Indonesian Hadrami religious figures.

In Chapter 6, William Clarence-Smith explains the presence and impact of Arab Muslim migrants in the southern parts of the colonial Philippines. He shows how historical Arab figures such as Sharif Hasan, who was regarded by Muslims in the southern Philippines as the first sultan who introduced Islam to the locals. In the Muslim sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippines, Arab migrants occupied key administrative [End Page 688] positions such as judgeships from the 18th century onward. Chapter 7, by James Spencer, considers the changing roles played across generations by members of the Hadrami diaspora during the postcolonial period. Spencer highlighted intriguing experiences of Hadrami migrant soldiers in Hyderabad during the 19th century.

In Chapter 8, Iain Walker explores issues of citizenship and belonging among Kenyan Hadramis. Like many other migrant communities, Hadramis in Kenya have tended to concentrate along the coast and experience little conflict between their Hadrami and Kenyan identities. Yemeni citizenship laws have enabled many Yemeni migrants to maintain their...


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