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Yemen Chronicle

Yemen Chronicle

An Anthropology of War and Mediation

Steven C. Caton

Hill and Wang


In 1979, Steven C. Caton went to a remote area of Yemen to do fieldwork on the famous oral poetry of its tribes. The recent hostage crisis in Iran made life perilous for a young American in the Middle East; worse, he was soon embroiled in a dangerous local conflict and tribal hostilities simmered for months. Yemen Chronicle is his extraordinary report both on events that ensued and on the many theoretical—let alone practical—difficulties of doing ethnography in such circumstances. Caton also offers a profound meditation on the political, cultural, and sexual components of modern Arab culture.

Yemen Chronicle

Khawlan al-Tiyal, Yemen Arab Republic. November 25, 1979
I had finally arrived at the place where I was to begin my fieldwork, a village whose inhabitants claimed descent...

Praise for Yemen Chronicle

“A book of exquisite beauty and depth. Caton's keen sensibility and his gift for tuning in to the poetic dimension of spoken Arabic make the reader part of the sanctuary where he lived, a witness on the roads he traveled.” —Veena Das, Chair, Department of Anthropology, The Johns Hopkins University

“An extraordinary work--beautifully crafted, deeply subtle, filled with an astonishing cultural sensibility. Few ethnographers have shown their research subjects in such subtle, passionate, and vulnerable depth. This is a brilliant, unforgettable achievement.” —Arthur Kleinman, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

“A superb study of an Arab nation and an engrossing portrait of a stranger in a strange land.” —Publisher's Weekly (Starred review)


Reviews from Goodreads

Steven C. Caton

Steven C. Caton, a professor of anthropology at Harvard University and director of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies, is the author of Lawrence of Arabia: A Film's Anthropology. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and New York City.

Hill and Wang

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