"Dahlgren goes beyond the usual study of a group of people to research first-hand the lives of women and men in the home, in the work place, and in the streets, which is central to her finding that Islamic societies must be seen through a multiplicity of spatial areas."—Amira Sonbol, editor of Beyond the Exotic: Women’s Histories in Islamic Societies
"Rich with detail and beautifully written. The book speaks directly to debates within anthropology."—Janine A. Clark, author of Islam, Charity, and Activism: Middle-Class Networks and Social Welfare in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen
Aden, the former capital of the only Marxist republic in the Arab world, has returned to the headlines as the scene of a popular uprising against the tribal-military rule of present-day Yemen. Dahlgren traces the social and political history of Aden from the late British colonial era, exploring the evolving ways in which the society has been established in a tension between contesting normative orders. Dahlgren offers a complex picture of Adeni society in which norms for propriety vary according to the contexts of social space. Dahlgren’s original research and engaging narratives of everyday Adeni people serve to document a nuanced social flexibility. She stresses individual agency and power to maneuver within a traditional patriarchal Muslim community.
As a resident of Aden for more than three years spanning the late years of Marxist South Yemen, Dahlgren presents the reader with an intimate portrait of Yemeni men and women in the home, in the factory, in the office, and in the street, demonstrating that Islamic societies must be understood through a multiplicity of social spheres and morality orders. Within each space, she examines the range of legal, political, religious, and social regulations that frame agency and social dynamics. Highlighting the diversity of women’s and men’s positions as a continuum rather than distinct areas, Dahlgren presents a vivid picture of this dynamic society, providing an in-depth background to today’s political upheavals in Yemen.
Susanne Dahlgren is an Academy of Finland research fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. She has published numerous articles on legal history in Yemen and on notions of Islam, morality, sexuality, and urban space.
6 x 9, 392 pages, 22 black and white illustrations, 2 maps