Islam, Memory, and Morality in Yemen: Ruling Families in Transition

Gabriele vom Bruck, New York: Palgrave, 2005. 348 pages.

The anthropological literature on Yemen has had little to say about the class of sadah (plural of sayyid) who dominated the Zaydi imamate in North Yemen from the tenth century until 1962. Gabriele vom Bruck’s account of the sadah, based on interviews and an extended stay in Yemen starting in 1983, includes a wide range of information on perceptions of this class, especially after the 1962 revolution, with an emphasis on how personal identity is established and attitudes about marriage with non-sadah. There is an extensive bibliography of western sources, but little indication of the wide range of relevant Arabic sources available. It should be noted that vom Bruck almost totally ignores the sadah of southern Yemen as well as of the Tihama, although her text sometimes reads as if it were describing a generic class of sadah for Yemen as a whole.

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