The Tale of a Feud

Domination, Resistance, and Agency in Highland Yemen


This book chronicles the life and times of tribal leader Mujāhid Ḥaydar, scion of a prominent local dynasty, and his agency in highland Yemen’s political conflicts from the 1970s to the early 2000s. When the political elites of the Ṣāliḥ regime murder his father and his elder brothers, he is forced to exact revenge and lead his tribe through dramatic vicissitudes that culminate in the catastrophe of the Ḥūthī wars. Mujāhid’s life is a story of ongoing strife, heroism, resistance, commitment to the defence of honour, loss, and exile. His biography offers nuanced and original insights into how tribal politics in Yemen influence the domain of the state and are often intertwined with it – such that neither can be comprehended independently from the other.
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Marieke Brandt is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Social Anthropology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. She is the author of Tribes and Politics in Yemen: A History of the Houthi Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2017).
‘A Masterful Microstudy of Inter-tribal Warfare.
The book presents the minutiae of the intertwining of local and inter-state conflicts to which political science and international relations literature tends to give less consideration. [...]
Because the book treats intertribal violence as a process rather than a measurable quantum acting as an independent variable, it makes a valuable contribution to the anthropology of violence and militarism that has emerged since the end of the Cold War.[...]
This is a superb and tremendously moving book which is written in eloquent and jargon-free prose and is well-presented.’
Gabriele vom Bruck in Jemen-Report Jg. 55/2024, Heft 1/2, 116-121.
List of Maps and Figures
Notes on Transliteration
Chapter 1: Childhood in Obscurity
Chapter 2: The Serpent with the Many Heads
Chapter 3: Burdensome Inheritances
Chapter 4: The Road to Politics
Chapter 5: The Time of Faits Accomplis
Chapter 6: Those Who Loosen and Those Who Bind
Some Final Thoughts on Tribes, Politics, and Passions
Scholars, experts, and students interested in the anthropology, society, history, and contemporary politics of Yemen, as well as those interested in biography and life writing. This volume is relevant to academic libraries, graduate and postgraduate students, and the general public interested in life writing, Yemen, and the Middle East.
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