Tuesday 10 April 2018, 16:15 - 18:00

Yemen’s ruination: preempting capitalism's artifices of history

Isa Blumi, Associate Professor, Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies, Stockholm University

ANSO Seminar

Room S1
Maison de la Paix, Geneva

Drawn to the spectacle that has rarely reached the larger world, this paper offers new readings into the systematic persecution of Yemen’s ruin. Where this presentation differs is its challenge to what will be an anticipated account (histories yet told) of this destruction. Drawing from the work of Anthropologist Ann Laura Stoler, it is possible to differentiate between forms of ruin (violent) and the political economy of Yemen’s elusive destruction. Here, global capital captures the future writing of this catastrophe’s history, allowing for culpability, and its consequences on those responsible, to (forever) elude accounting. In recognising this strategic omission of destruction and its consequences, we again have a productive opportunity to observe history being written before it is complete. As predictable obfuscation, this management of destruction constitutes a preemptive investment in not recording violence, a preemption into what we can (and cannot) say in Yemen’s afterlife.

In this respect, the reports on Yemen’s death is as much a story of genocide as a counter-intuitive perspective toward the future of another kind of ruination. This lecture exposes the decline of the larger regime of oil/gas-backed finance, a consequence of the investment finance capital that has been destroying Yemen.  In the end, by telling a mediated story of destruction while it is still happening, we may intercede in the inevitable retrospection that as much obscures as illuminates other stories of ruin. This presentation thus deconstructs, as much as reports on, what is currently happening in Yemen. What ultimately this interweaving of narratives produces is a clear understanding of the inevitable ruin of Arabia.

About the Speaker:


As a recent addition to the Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies at Stockholm University, Isa Blumi (PhD from New York University and MA/BA from the New School for Social Research, New York) has worked to build the graduate programme in Middle Eastern studies. Having just finished his latest book Destroying Yemen (University of California Press, 2018), which offers historic accounts for the recent violence in South Arabia, Dr Blumi (who previously taught a course at The Graduate Institute in the International History Department) continues to research and write on transitional societies found through the larger Islamic world.