SUMMARY:This roundtable explores the current limitations in the study of Yemeni Americans and foregrounds emerging research efforts to examine the complexity of researching Yemeni American past and present experiences. That Yemeni Americans are understudied in both area studies (Middle East studies) and ethnic studies (Arab American studies) should not be understated. Much of what has been published around Arab Americans advance understandings of identity based on the experiences of those who originate from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. Despite their vibrant presence in and diasporic contributions to the Arab American community, Yemeni Americans have been the least theorized. This roundtable bridges this scholarly gap by forging a space for a conversation on the methodological challenges and research possibilities surrounding Yemeni Americans.
The roundtable features six contributors from various academic institutions that offer insights into their areas of research expertise. The first contributor examines the importance of histories of Yemeni American labor and migration, highlighting the connections between local challenges in the diaspora with global politics of empire. The second contributor contextualizes the history of Yemeni labor migration to the Great Lakes, its repercussions for family and community life, and the openings it creates in the present for new forms of social and transnational mobility. These two contributions lay a historical foundation for the other contributions that will focus on the contemporary heterogeneity of Yemeni American voices and experiences. This heterogeneity includes a reflection on the generational transformation among Yemeni Americans in Michigan, an examination of advocacy among Yemeni Americans in New York, an exposition of the resilience of Yemeni American females in California in seeking higher education, and a presentation of Yemeni American visual art in relation to questions of identity and agency.
The roundtable’s significance lies in its timely engagement with emerging scholarship on Yemeni Americans and its advancement of a multi-layered conversation of temporal, spatial, and multi-disciplinary nature.
SPONSOR:American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS)
DISCIPLINES:Hist; Hist; Hist