François Burgat
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Yemen
Modernization without Colonization
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His period in Yemen enabled the author to step out of both the North African and the Middle Eastern versions of the colonial paradigm. Given how central this variable has been to the scholarly construction of political Islam, this was a fundamental change.The history of contemporary Yemen is defined by a certain dualism, from the outset of the competition between the Ottoman and British empires in 1839 to the country’s reunification in May 1990 that formally brought to an end the long and turbulent North/South division. This provided political scientists with a unique laboratory through which to examine the coexistence between how politics expressed itself in the “Afghanistan of the Gulf” in the North, that is, in a region cut off from any direct Western influence—and, in the South, the successor to the only country in the region ever explicitly to adopt the references of a USSR-imported Marxism, wide open to foreign influences.Yemen was also, and primarily, an entry point into the distinctive political problematic associated with the Gulf, including in the fields of sectarian divide or Al-Qaeda-type radicalization.

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