A Tribal Order

9780292714236: Hardback
Release Date: 1st February 2007

14 color illus. in 8 page section, 50 b&w illus., 26 figures

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 410

Series CMES Modern Middle East Series

University of Texas Press

A Tribal Order

Politics and Law in the Mountains of Yemen

Hardback / £41.00

Winner, British-Kuwait Friendship Prize in Middle Eastern Studies, British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, 2008

A Tribal Order describes the politico-legal system of Jabal Razih, a remote massif in northern Yemen inhabited by farmers and traders. Contrary to the popular image of Middle Eastern tribes as warlike, lawless, and invariably opposed to states, the tribes of Razih have stable structures of governance and elaborate laws and procedures for maintaining order and resolving conflicts with a minimum of physical violence. Razihi leaders also historically cooperated with states, provided the latter respected their customs, ideals, and interests. Weir considers this system in the context of the rugged environment and productive agricultural economy of Razih, and of centuries of continuous rule by Zaydi Muslim regimes and (latterly) the republican governments of Yemen.

The book is based on Weir's extended anthropological fieldwork on Jabal Razih, and on her detailed study of hundreds of handwritten contracts and treaties among and between the tribes and rulers of Razih. These documents provide a fascinating insight into tribal politics and law, as well as state-tribe relations, from the early seventeenth to the late twentieth century. A Tribal Order is also enriched by case histories that vividly illuminate tribal practices. Overall, this unusually wide-ranging work provides an accessible account of a remarkable Arabian society through time.

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
    • Note on Transliteration
    • Currency
    • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Part I. The Tribal System
    • Chapter 1. Environment and Economy
    • Chapter 2. Social and Political Inequality
    • Chapter 3. The Tribes of Razih
    • Chapter 4. Tribal Leadership
    • Chapter 5. Wider Structures and Relations
  • Part II. Tribal Governance
    • Chapter 6. Principles, Rules, and Sanctions
    • Chapter 7. Enforcing the Law
    • Chapter 8. Conflict and Violence
  • Part III. The State-Tribe Relationship
    • Chapter 9. The Qasimi Period
    • Chapter 10. The Hamid al-Din Period
    • Chapter 11. The Republican Period
  • Conclusions
  • Appendix 1. Chronology of Events Affecting Razih
  • Appendix 2. Catalogue of Razihi Documents
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Shelagh Weir is a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

British-Kuwait Friendship Prize in Middle Eastern Studies, British Society for Middle Eastern Studies - 2008