Yemen and the World

Beyond Insecurity

Part of the CERI/Sciences Po. series
October 2018 9781849049665 256pp


Contemporary Yemen has an image problem. It has long fascinated travellers and artists, and to many embodies both Arab and Muslim authenticity; it stands at important geostrategic and commercial crossroads. Yet, strangely, global perceptions of Yemen are of an entity that is somehow both marginal and passive, yet also dangerous and problematic.

The Saudi offensive launched in 2015 has made Yemen a victim of regional power struggles, while the global ‘war on terror’ has labelled it a threat to international security. This perception has had disastrous effects without generating real interest in the country or its people. On the contrary, Yemen’s complex political dynamics have been largely ignored by international observers—resulting in problematic, if not counterproductive, international policies.

Yemen and the World offers a corrective to these misconceptions and omissions, putting aside the nature of the world’s interest in Yemen to focus on Yemen’s role on the global stage. Laurent Bonnefoy uses six areas of modern international exchange—globalisation, diplomacy, trade, migration, culture and militant Islamism—to restore Yemen to its place at the heart of contemporary affairs. To understand Yemen, he argues, is to understand the Middle East as a whole.


‘An intensely detailed examination of this ancient land on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula. [The] current civil conflict can be better understood by a reading of Yemen and the World, perhaps more so than any other published account.’ — CHOICE

‘A thoroughly researched and compelling analysis that makes a solid contribution to Yemen studies by providing an insightful look at Yemeni international interactions over the past two centuries.’ — Bustan: The Middle East Book Review

‘This is an outstanding book, an incisive and in-depth look at Yemeni international interactions over the past two centuries. Bonnefoy’s examination of migrants, merchants, and refugees, and literature, song, and poetry takes the reader on a far richer and highly compelling journey than others have done.’ — Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Fellow for the Middle East, Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy, and Associate Fellow in the Middle East & North Africa Programme, Chatham House

‘Bonnefoy deftly weaves together historical and contemporary analysis through the lens of transnational flows of ideas, people, and claims. This is essential to a better understanding of what is (and is not) new about Yemen’s axes of conflict and potential for sustainable peace.’ — Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Chair of the International Relations Program, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and author of Islamists and the State: Legitimacy and Institutions in Yemen and Lebanon

‘A splendid documentation of Yemen’s synergies with the world, both in history and contemporary times. Bonnefoy has done a superb job of persuading us of Yemen’s vital position in the global community.’ — Marieke Brandt, Austrian Academy of Sciences Institute for Social Anthropology, and author of Tribes and Politics in Yemen


Laurent Bonnefoy is a CNRS researcher at CERI Sciences Po, Paris. A specialist in Islamist movements and politics in the Arabian Peninsula, he is the author of Salafism in Yemen: Transnationalism and Religious Identity, and has published in numerous international academic journals.

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