To Cite: Mahdi, Waleed F. “Contemporary Modes of Yemeni American Agency Between Urgency and Emergence” in Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 43, no. 1, 2023, 43-66.
Abstract: This essay examines the formation of contemporary Yemeni American agency at the interplay of economics, politics, and arts. The context of my analysis draws from the unfolding events and policies following the tragic attacks of 9/11 (2001) in the United States and the revolutionary fervor of the Arab Spring in Yemen (2011). The various economic, political, and cultural forms of agency explored in this work constitute responses to US policing of Yemeni American individuals and communities in both the United States and Yemen as part of the so-called war on terror campaign. Moving away from the “sojourner-settler” paradigm, which has limited understanding of Yemeni American experiences in the United States since the 1970s, I theorize Yemeni American agency as multi-dimensional and multi-sited and emphasize its dynamic and collaborative, albeit often contradictory, character. In doing so, I demonstrate how Yemeni Americans have not been passive victims of the post–9/11 backlash against Arabs and Muslims and the post–Arab Spring collapse of Yemen, but instead been active participants in building coalitions, joining alliances, and resisting forms of discrimination, harassment, and violence.
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