Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen
Lisa Wedeen, who spent a year and a half in Yemen observing and interviewing its residents, argues that national solidarity in such weak states tends to arise not from attachments to institutions but through both extraordinary events and the ordinary activities of everyday life. Yemenis, for example, regularly gather to chew qat, a leafy drug similar to caffeine, as they engage in wide-ranging and sometimes influential public discussions of even the most divisive political and social issues. These lively debates exemplify Wedeen’s contention that democratic, national, and pious solidarities work as ongoing, performative practices that enact and reproduce a citizenry’s shared points of reference. Ultimately, her skillful evocations of such practices shift attention away from a narrow focus on government institutions and electoral competition and toward the substantive experience of participatory politics.
Seeing Like a Citizen, Acting Like a State
The Politics of Deliberation: Qat Chews as Public Spheres
Practicing Piety, Summoning Groups: Disorder as Control
Piety in Time: Contemporary Islamic Movements in National and Transnational Contexts
Politics as Performative
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