Yemen’s Cultural Crisis: Catastrophe or Opportunity?
MESA Annual Convention, Sunday, November 23, 4:30pm
• Bridging the Generation Gap to Protect Nature in Yemen: Conservation of Nature through Culture by Mohammed Al-Duais
• Cents and (Cultural) Sensibility: How Transnational Political Agendas Condition the Content of Contemporary Theater in Yemen by Katherine Hennessey
• It Looks Good on Paper: Conserving Zabid’s Manuscripts and Intellectual History by Anne Regourd
• Conserving Built Heritage and Landscapes in Yemen: Political and Cultural Considerations for Sustainability by Stephen Steinbeiser and Abdullah Al-Hadhrami
• Chair: Dr. Sheila Carapico
This panel investigates how sociopolitical turmoil in Yemen from 2011 to the present has impacted the production, development, and preservation of culture in domains ranging from the arts to architecture to archeology. Dire political and economic circumstances, as well as other impending emergencies, have largely thrown into crisis efforts to create and maintain Yemen’s cultural heritage. International and diplomatic efforts to stabilize the political situation in Yemen have resulted in pledges of billions of dollars, presumably to shore up a failing economy, combat terrorism and ensure security. Although these are undeniably crucial goals, this panel argues that a brighter future for the country depends more on a holistic awareness and approach to addressing the country’s problems, one which broadens the focus to promote education, the arts, and preservation of Yemen’s immense, but often undocumented and deteriorating, cultural patrimony.
Scholars on this panel will analyze the contemporary challenges to cultural preservation and production in Yemen, and the urgent threats such challenges pose. When possible, panelists will also provide examples of recent successful efforts to protect and support various aspects of Yemeni culture, as well as contemporary cultural production spurred by the Arab Spring, and to suggest ways in which individuals, organizations, and the international community could potentially capitalize on those efforts. The panelists’ areas of expertise will cover a variety of sub-domains under the general heading of cultural production, including but not limited to architecture and restoration; museums and cultural policy; manuscript conservation; environmental awareness; and literature, film, and theater.