Native Outsiders: The Black Muhamasheen of Yemen


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




“Native Outsiders” is a social history of Yemen’s marginalized Black Muhamasheen community who many describe as Yemen’s “untouchables.” Drawing on oral histories, digital methods, as well as formal and informal archives, the project traces Black Muhamasheen subjectivity, labor, gendered norms, and lived experiences in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It explores how a community who has resided in Yemen since the sixth century and who claim Yemeni Indigeneity come to be marked as perpetual native outsiders. It attends to what these internal outsiders teach us about how Blackness, race, class, and caste overlapped in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean. Black Muhamasheen and their Yemeni Indigeneity offer another map of an “Oceanic Yemen,” a meeting place of East Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East.