Paper delivered at the American Anthropological Association, November 2000.
In the spring of 1998, I was walking on the grounds of the University of Aden, in southern Yemen, just after classes had been let out. I went into a small university coffee-shop, and found this pamphlet laying on the glass shelves, free for the taking. [Show slide.] “Interview with a Famous Personality” (muqaabilah ma’ shakhsiyyah ma`ruufah). The alleged interviewer asks a series of questions to this “Famous Personality” in order to produce his “i.d. card”:
Name: “Mr. Satellite”. (And here is a picture of Mr. Satellite, busy at work reducing a fairly contemporary urban Yemeni house to rubble.)
Birth Place: “The lands of the Jews and Nazarenes (Christians)”
Address: “Atop the rooves of many Muslim’s houses”
Principle Occupation: “Undermining the morals of Muslims, and diverting them from their religion.” Then a verse from a chapter in the Qur’an warns those who might stray of the bond between the true believer and God.
Debate over the impact of satellite dishes in Yemen has become heated in recent years. Read the rest of this entry »