Epigraphy of pre-Islamic South Arabia

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A series of five hands-on lectures will be given by Christian Robin, a Member of the School for Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and of the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique in France, in the Near Eastern Studies Workshops sponsored by Professor Sabine Schmidtke. These will provide an overview of the epigraphic documentation of pre-Islamic Arabia and existing tools, as well as presenting the state of the art on issues for which significant progress has been made in recent years through new epigraphic discoveries and the re-examination of older documents.

This will be held over five days: January 21, 23, 27, 28, 30, 2020 in Fuld Hall, room 307 of IAS.

The topics include:
• Arabs and Ḥimyarites; sha‘b and ‘ashīrat; the introduction of the horse
• territorial expansion of the kingdom of Ḥimyar; the “kingdom” of Kinda
• Judaism of Ḥimyar; the names of God, especially Raḥmānān
• reign of Abraha; the Christianity of Ḥimyar; Christian Arabs
• polytheistic god al-Lāh (comparison with al-Lāt); daughters of Īl
• tribal map and Arab-Islamic genealogies; permanence and breaks
• Arab-Muslim scholarly tradition and archaeology (writing, ritual practices, political history, chronology)
• Arabic and South Arabian languages
• long distance trade
• public finances

Knowledge of a Semitic language, ideally Arabic, is recommended.

RSVP to nitschke@ias.edu

Tribal Dynamics and Nation Building in Yemen

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On February 5, 2020 Najwa Adra, a Visitor at the School for Social Sciences of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, will give a talk in the  Near Eastern Studies Seminar on “Tribal Dynamics and Nation Building in Yemen.”

The meeting will be from 4:00-6:00 pm in the West Seminar room at IAS. All are welcome.

For details, click here: https://www.hs.ias.edu/islamic-world/events

Passing of Abbas Hamdani

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Prof. Abbas Hamdani

AIYS is saddened to hear of the passing of Prof. Abbas Hamdani, who made substantial contributions to the study of the Ismaili community in Yemen, on December 23, 2019.

Below is a tribute from George Mason University:

Condolences from AVACGIS to the Family of Professor Abbas Hamdani

Dear Friends,

We are sorry to share the news that Dr. Sumaiya Hamdani’s father, Dr. Abbas Hamdani, passed away.      Dr. Sumaiya Hamdani shared that he passed in comfort, and was at home with family. Please join us in extending condolences and sympathies to Dr. Sumaiya Hamdani. Her e-mail address is shamdani@gmu.edu

In lieu of flowers, Dr. Abbas Hamdani wished for family and friends to donate to either Doctors without Borders or the United Nations Relief Works Agency.

Here is some information about Dr. Abbas Hamdani adapted from his faculty page at the Institute for Ismaili Studies:

Dr. Hamdani was Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He was born in Surat, India in 1926, received his B.A. (Hons.) and L.L.B. degrees from Bombay University in 1945 and 1947 and his Ph.D. from the University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies) in 1950, in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He taught Islamic History at the University of Karachi from 1951-62; at the American University in Cairo from 1962-69; and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee until his retirement in 2001.
Dr. Hamdani published widely on medieval Islamic philosophical thought.  His academic honors include a Fellowship from the Fulbright Commission and the American Research Centre in Egypt, and an award for distinction in Teaching, Service, and the promotion of Peace from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He spoke several languages (English, Arabic, French, Urdu, Gujrati) and travelled widely, attending and speaking at conferences in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, North Africa, Australia, and Asia.  He recently donated around 300 manuscripts inherited through seven generations of his family to the Institute of Ismaili Studies, which has been catalogued in the IIS publication Arabic, Persian and Gujarati Manuscripts: The Hamdani Collection.

An obituary from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is published here.

Yemen at American Historical Association

Three members of AIYS will be presenting at the AHA annual meeting in New York City this coming Monday.

Late Breaking: Understanding the Conflict in Yemen Through History

Monday, January 6, 2020: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM

Trianon Ballroom (New York Hilton, Third Floor), NYC

Chair:
Les Campbell, National Democratic Institute
Panel:
Bernard Haykel, Princeton University
Gregory Johnsen, Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies
Asher Orkaby, Transregional Institute, Princeton University
Khlood al-Hagar, National Endowment for Democracy

Session Abstract

The ongoing civil war in Yemen is synonymous with a growing humanitarian crisis and a sectarian rivalry between Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and Shi’is in Iran. Underlying the difficult photos of starving Yemeni children and cities succumbing to widescale destruction is a conflict rooted in Yemen’s history. The modern state of Yemen, first founded in September 1962 has been reduced to a few hotel rooms in Riyadh, while northern tribesmen representing a bygone and racist social and political hierarchy have taken over the capital city of Sana’a. The “civil war” does not feature opportunistic groups searching for prominence in a fractured political structure in Yemen, but rather consists of groups representing centuries of geographic, religious, ideological, and cultural identities that constitute the very fabric of South Arabian history.

Yemen, however, does not exist in a vacuum. A local change of government in Sana’a has drawn regional and international powers into the political strife, dragging a national struggle into the international arena. The relative dearth of Yemen area specialists has presented both an opportunity and responsibility for historians and other academics to lend their expertise to governments, think tanks, and the general public audience as they struggle to make sense of current events in Yemen. Seldom do historians have an opportunity to reach audiences of thousands, let alone hundreds of thousands, eager to learn about decades and centuries of Yemeni history. Seldom do historians have an opportunity to make history themselves, by applying their historical expertise to a contemporary conflict and playing a role in bringing about a peaceful resolution.This panel features experts on Yemen’s religious, social, and political history. Each panelist will present a historical perspective on a particular aspect of the Yemen conflict and discuss how they have been able to translate their academic expertise to the policy field and to a wider public audience. The panel will also be an opportunity to demonstrate the power of Applied History and how the history classroom can be transferred to real world conflicts.

Passing of Merilyn Phillips Hodgson

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Merilyn Phillips Hodgson
(photograph from AFSM website)

Dear friends,
It is with great sorrow that we share the news of the passing of Merilyn Phillips Hodgson on Sunday, December 29, 2019 at her home in Falls Church, Virginia.
Merilyn’s passion for Yemen and its people began after taking over the leadership of the American Foundation for the Study of Man following the death of her brother, Wendell Phillips.
Through her commitment to the archaeology and cultural heritage of Yemen, she introduced great opportunities for scholars to participate and work in one of the most famous archaeological sites in Yemen at Awam Temple/ Mahram Bilqis.  We at the American Foundation for the Study of Man will honor her legacy and continue exploring, working and supporting Yemen and its culture.
Those of us that have had the privilege of enjoying her company will miss her greatly.  May she rest in peace and may your memories of spending time with her bring a smile.

On behalf of the American Foundation of the Study of Man,
Zaydoon Zaid
________________________________
Dr.-Ing. Zaydoon Zaid
Director and Vice-president
American Foundation For the Study of Man
Falls Church, VA 22042
703 241 3780
703 303 9640 (cell)

Interview with Salma Damluji on Yemeni Architecture

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There is a Youtube video discussion between the Italian historian of architecture Attilio Petruccioli and the architect Salma Damluji on her book on Yemeni architecture in Yemen, Yāfi‘ and the Ḥaḍramawt. Professor Petruccioli has recently established a major library in Trani, Italy on architecture and urbanization in the Middle East and Asia.

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