MISR Working Paper No 30: Yemeni Diaspora, Law and Colonial Social Order in 1930 Djibouti.

Name of Journal
MISR Working papers
Main Author
A. Bezabeh
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Volume Number: 
April 2017
Makerere Institute of Social Research

Recent scholarship on Africa recognizes the relevance of looking at the connection between Africa and the Indian Ocean realm. Focusing on one of the well-known diaspora in this region, the Yemenis, this study examines the interaction/interface between Yemeni diaspora property management (inheritance) and the colonial social order in Djibouti. It argues that the property management of this diasporic group has been important not only for the Yemeni diaspora, but also in shaping and reshaping the colonial social order, which envisioned a hierarchical social order that neatly separated natives from the colonialist. Diasporic dilemmas that emanate from Yemeni attempts to manage their property in different legal systems have resulted in the dilution of the colonial categories and inserted the minority diaspora in the colonial state. This article primarily focuses on Yemeni diaspora who existed as a minority group, with keen emphasis on the role of minorities in the colonial social order. In so doing, it shows how diasporas, rather than being docile subjects, played an important role in blurring the colonial social order and hence in the dismantling of, not only the colonizer/colonized divide, but also the Islamic domain, often regarded as unified and as the last defense point of Muslims who experienced defeat at the hands of the colonialists.

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