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This week, Kumars and Roqayah speak with Martha Mundy, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. She specializes in the anthropology of Arab societies, focusing in particular on matters of law and state, agrarian systems, kinship and family. Martha, who conducted her first ethnographic fieldwork in North Yemen in the mid-1970's, discusses the historical background of Yemen, including the political composition of the North and South. We learn about what drew Martha towards the region, specifically working in Yemen in the area of agricultural study. We dive into the role of local tribal and agrarian culture, how they form the very base of Yemeni society, and how this has been impacted by war and famine. Martha draws attention to the Saudi-led coalition bombing of Yemen, and how this military onslaught, whose targets have included water facilities, and sanitation systems, has brought Yemen to the brink of collapse. Martha discusses the extent of the economic war on Yemen and the U.S. role in prolonging it—from the Bush administration’s designation of Yemen as a combat zone, and subsequent drone assassination campaigns, to Barack Obama’s covert “signature strikes”.
Check out Martha's writing over at Counterpunch and buy her book. Also, make sure to listen to our interview from 2016 with journalist Afrah Nasser about Yemen.
A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.