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Yemen in the (Anti)-Imperial Indian Ocean: Toward a Spatial History of Modern Arabia

A lecture by John M. Willis, University of Colorado

Why has the history of Yemen held such a marginal position in the historiography of the modern Middle East?  And how might a critical-historical geography integrate Yemen into broader histories of economy, empire, state formation, religious thought, and resistance?   In this talk I’ll attempt to address these questions by situating Yemen’s modern history in the entangled spacetimes of the imperial and anti-imperial Indian Oceans in the early twentieth century and, in doing so, suggest what a geographically informed “spatial history” of Arabia might look like.

John M. Willis received his Ph.D. in the departments of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University.  He is currently Assistant Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  His first book, Unmaking North and South:  Cartographies of the Yemeni Past, 1857-1934 was published by Hurst and Columbia University Press in 2012.  He is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled After the Caliphate: Mecca and the Geography of Crisis and Hope

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