Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen

Paperback | October 1, 2008

byLisa Wedeen

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The government of Yemen, unified since 1990, remains largely incapable of controlling violence or providing goods and services to its population, but the regime continues to endure despite its fragility and peripheral location in the global political and economic order. Revealing what holds Yemen together in such tenuous circumstances, Peripheral Visions shows how citizens form national attachments even in the absence of strong state institutions.

Lisa Wedeen, who spent a year and a half in Yemen observing and interviewing its residents, argues that national solidarity in such weak states tends to arise not from attachments to institutions but through both extraordinary events and the ordinary activities of everyday life. Yemenis, for example, regularly gather to chew qat, a leafy drug similar to caffeine, as they engage in wide-ranging and sometimes influential public discussions of even the most divisive political and social issues. These lively debates exemplify Wedeen’s contention that democratic, national, and pious solidarities work as ongoing, performative practices that enact and reproduce a citizenry’s shared points of reference. Ultimately, her skillful evocations of such practices shift attention away from a narrow focus on government institutions and electoral competition and toward the substantive experience of participatory politics.

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The government of Yemen, unified since 1990, remains largely incapable of controlling violence or providing goods and services to its population, but the regime continues to endure despite its fragility and peripheral location in the global political and economic order. Revealing what holds Yemen together in such tenuous circumstances,...

Lisa Wedeen is professor in and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago and the author of Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria. 

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:October 1, 2008Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226877914

ISBN - 13:9780226877914

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Maps
Acknowledgments
 
Introduction
 
Chapter One
Imagining Unity
 
Chapter Two
Seeing Like a Citizen, Acting Like a State
 
Chapter Three
The Politics of Deliberation: Qat Chews as Public Spheres
 
Chapter Four
Practicing Piety, Summoning Groups: Disorder as Control
 
Chapter Five
Piety in Time: Contemporary Islamic Movements in National and Transnational Contexts
 
Conclusion
Politics as Performative
 
Notes
Bibliography
Index