This fascinating microhistory unveils networks of extended interpersonal relationships between Jewish villagers and members of their Muslim surroundings in the decades preceding their 1949 departure from Lower Yemen. In a multi-layered narrative crafted from letters and legal documents in Arabic and an accompanying supply of Judeo-Arabic narratives, the book portrays how religiously subordinated individuals strove to pursue their interests without forgoing the protection of the dominant majority. At once shedding new light on both Jewish history and on rural Yemeni-Muslim history, the work provides a rare, pre-republican (pre-1962) portrait of rural life in Lower Yemen while positioning the Jewish community in the context of hitherto little-understood social, legal, economic and political systems.
Isaac Hollander, Ph.D. (2001), Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has taught at the Hebrew University, the University of Michigan and the University of Toronto. He is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto.