Stacey Philbrick Yadav, assistant professor of political science, has published a number of articles this spring on a range of interrelated subjects stemming from her fieldwork in Yemen and Lebanon. Each of these articles deals in different ways with some of the implications of Islamist activism for public politics in Yemen, and one compares the experiences in Yemen and Lebanon.
In “Understanding ‘What Islamists Want’: Public Debate and Contestation in Lebanon and Yemen,” Middle East Journal 64 (2):199-213, she argues that there are ways in which Islamist activism has narrowed the scope of public debate (for example, by promoting self-censorship, or policing speech through allegations of apostasy), but also ways in which it has expanded the scope of debate and deliberation through demands for government transparency and accountability, and improved democratic function.
The article “Segmented Publics and Islamist Women in Yemen: Rethinking Space and Activism,” which appeared in the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 6 (2): 1-30, similarly challenges the simplistic assumption that Islamist activism is carried out by men in ways that negatively affect women. Philbrick Yadav’s analysis shows that women activists are critical to the Islamist project in Yemen and that their (spatially-segregated) activism is having a transformative effect not only on public politics, but also on the internal politics of the Islamist party, Islah, in ways that are substantively expanding options for women.
The last article, however, shows some of the limits of such activism, exploring some of the consequences of cross-ideological alliance building (between socialists and Islamists) and showing how these alliances have led to a decline in women’s activism across all political parties over time. The article, co-authored with Janine Clark, “Disappointments and New Directions: Women, Partisanship and the Regime in Yemen,” HAWWA: Journal of Women in the Middle East and Islamic World 8 (3): 1-41, examines some of the reasons for this decline, and details women’s increasing investment in civic activism outside of formal party structures.
Additionally, on April 8, Philbrick Yadav was invited to speak at the Maxwell School for Public Policy’s Leaders of Democracy Fellowship (LDF) program. The LDF program brings democracy activists from throughout the Arab region to Syracuse University for a six-week course comparing strategies and experiences of democratic activism from around the world. Philbrick Yadav spoke on the lessons of Yemen’s experience of cross-ideological alliance building for other opposition movements in the region.
“I was excited to have in the audience one of the Yemeni women who inspired me to write on this subject in the first place,” she says.
While much of this research was carried out when she lived in the Middle East from 2003-2006, Philbrick Yadav has also made return trips to continue her fieldwork since joining the faculty of HWS in the fall of 2006. The Colleges supported her research in Lebanon in 2008, and in Yemen in 2008-2009.