GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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On Worrying about (or Mourning) the Death of the Yemeni State: Preliminary Reflections
Paper Proposal Text :
Many scholars and experts interested in Yemen often worry about the near death/collapse (disintegration) of the Yemeni state as well as the collapse of its capacity to offer any political good necessary for a peaceful community to thrive. Thinking about the Yemeni state through public worry is indeed a way of thinking the state through itself, which expresses a form of symbolic violence. To elaborate on this proposition and with a brief reflection on the 2011 Yemen uprising, especially the GCC Initiative backed by the international community, I demonstrate the ways through which the Yemeni state became an object of international, regional, and national worries. Consequently, an international intervention has been legitimatized to successfully reproduce modes of international and regional domination, which evidently threatens the communal culture of Yemen. To think the state in this manner, I contend, animates the state as a betrayal of other political and moral communal possibilities. I want to propose that, perhaps, we need now to think the state by utilizing new language other than that of the state. I suggest that thinking the state through mourning its death could give birth to a novel form of communal political hope. In doing so, I examine forms of aesthetic mourning and grief that have recently flourished among young Yemenis through which they seek to mourn the injury and death of Yemen. I argue that the difference between worrying about the near death of the Yemeni state and mourning its death is a difference between the state’s betrayal of political and communal possibilities and its fidelity to political and communal hope. My understanding of the state that informs the analysis I propose here is inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s theorization of the state.