Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Soqotra (Yemen)
Join us on Sunday, 10 March 2019 as Professor Nathalie Peutz discusses her latest book, Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Soqotra (Yemen). The lecture will be held at the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage in Manama, Bahrain at 7 P.M.
Professor Peutz’s book will be available for purchase. Books are limited!
Yemen’s Soqotra island is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. A UNESCO natural World Heritage Site, it is home not only to birds, reptiles, and plants found nowhere else on earth, but also to a rich cultural history and the endangered Soqotri language. Within the span of a decade Soqotra went from being among the most marginalized regions of Yemen to being promoted for its outstanding global value. Discussing the 21st-century environmental conservation, development, and heritage projects in Soqotra that engendered this change, Peutz narrates how everyday Soqotrans came to assemble, defend, and mobilize their cultural and linguistic heritage in transformative ways.
Soqotra, the largest island of Yemen’s Soqotra Archipelago, is one of the most uniquely diverse places in the world. A UNESCO natural World Heritage Site, the island is home not only to birds, reptiles, and plants found nowhere else on earth, but also to a rich cultural history and the endangered Soqotri language. Within the span of a decade, this Indian Ocean archipelago went from being among the most marginalized regions of Yemen to promoted for its outstanding global value. Islands of Heritage shares Soqotrans’ stories to offer the first exploration of environmental conservation, heritage production, and development in an Arab state. Examining the multiple notions of heritage in play for twenty-first-century Soqotra, Nathalie Peutz narrates how everyday Soqotrans came to assemble, defend, and mobilize their cultural and linguistic heritage. These efforts, which diverged from outsiders’ focus on the island’s natural heritage, ultimately added to Soqotrans’ calls for political and cultural change during the Yemeni Revolution. Islands of Heritage shows that far from being merely a conservative endeavor, the protection of heritage can have profoundly transformative, even revolutionary effects. Grassroots claims to heritage can be a potent form of political engagement with the most imminent concerns of the present: human rights, globalization, democracy, and sustainability.
Nathalie Peutz, Program Head of Arab Crossroads Studies and Assistant Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies, NYUAD
About the author: Nathalie Peutz is an anthropologist and Assistant Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies at New York University Abu Dhabi. Her research focuses on forced migration, displacement and immobility, conservation and development, and identity and heritage in the Arab world and the Western Indian Ocean region. Her publications include Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Yemen (Stanford University Press, 2018); a co-edited volume, The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (with Nicholas De Genova, Duke University Press, 2010); and several articles on the transformation of Yemen’s Soqotra Archipelago into a World Heritage Site. She has received fellowships and grants from the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, the Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation, the Council of Middle East Studies at Yale University, the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, Fulbright-Hays (DDRA), the Social Science Research Council (IPFP), the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), and the Andrew F. Mellon Foundation. She is currently working on a second book project titled Gate of Tears: Migration and Impasse in Yemen and the Horn of Africa based on her ethnographic fieldwork with Yemeni migrant and refugee communities in the Horn of Africa.