23 June, 2011

Books on Hadhramaut and the Hadharem

With all the very learned and well informed Hadharem, within and out of Hadhramout, it is incredible that none has undertaken to write a proper, well researched and informed book - in English - on Hadhramaut or the Hadhramis. Of the many well known books written and read by many who are interested in this part of Arabia, incredibly, none is by a Hadhrami. To mention a few of these books:
The Hadrami awakening: community and identity in the Netherlands East Indies ...by Natalie Mobini-Kesheh: is a 'thoughtful, richly informed study...the fruit of wide reading and painstaking research. It is written with assurance and refreshing lucidity, and is a valuable addition to existing studies on the Hadhrami diaspora.' Al Bab
Hadhrami traders, scholars, and statesmen in the Indian Ocean, 1750s-1960s...by Ulrike Freitag and W. G. Clarence-Smith: This book 'covers the long neglected history of Hadhramaut (southern Arabia) during the modern colonial era, together with the history of Hadhrami "colonies" in the Malay world, southern India, the Red Sea, and East Africa. After an introduction placing Hadhramis in the context of other diasporas, there are sections on local and international politics, social stratification and integration, religious and social reform, and economic dynamics.' Google Books
The graves of Tarim: genealogy and mobility across the Indian Ocean...by Engseng Ho. This book is an impressive piece of scholarship in which Ho traces the history of the Hadhrami Arab diaspora across the Indian Ocean through the longue durée of the last 1,000 years. He traces this history primarily through the construction of genealogies, which established the city of Tarim as the origin from which all genealogies flowed. This leans more toward history than it does anthropology, but is in any case a very interesting take on how a sense of place is constructed such that a disparate diaspora can maintain its identity over a millennium.
On the Edge of Empire: Gender, Race, and the Making of British Columbia, 1849-1871...by Adele Perry: is a well-written, carefully researched, very absorbing and persuasively argued book. It has won the Clio Award, British Columbia Region, presented by the Canadian Historical Association, and is co-winner of the Pacific Coast Branch Book Award, presented by the American Historical Association. Read more here.
The Hadhrami diaspora in Southeast Asia: identity maintenance or assimilation?...by Ahmed Ibrahim Abushouk and Hassan Ahmed Ibrahim: any one interested in the Hadhramaut and its diaspora, should read this book. This book 'originates from the proceedings of an international conference convened by the Department of History and Civilization, International Islamic University Malaysia, in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Yemen, in Kuala Lumpur, from 26 to 28 August 2005.' Google Books
Hadrami Arabs in present-day Indonesia: an Indonesia-oriented group with an Arab signature...by Frode Fadnes Jacobsen: 'this small book contributes to the growing body of literature on the Hadrami Arab presence in Southeast Asia. While much of the existing literature focuses on the Javanese and, to some extent, the Singaporean Hadrami community, its originality lies in the ethnographic material which the author gathered in Bali. He is thus able to discuss a number of issues which add significantly to our knowledge of the Indonesians of Hadrami-Arab origin in present-day Indonesia—by the regional focus, by the stress on current developments and, finally, by discussing an issue which hitherto no other study of the Southeast Asian Hadramis has addressed, namely a specific group of healers.' Journal of Islamic Studies
The Hadrami Diaspora: Community-Building on the Indian Ocean Rim...by Leif Manger: in the early centuries of migration, the Hadhrami, traveler was both a trader and a religious missionary, making the migrant community both a “trade diaspora” and a “religious diaspora.” The book is not that absorbing but still worth reading.
The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut...by Freya Stark: is most probably the most read most well known book on Hadhramaout. Of the books on Hadhramout, this I find as the most absorbing and most fascinating of all; not because of the subject matter. Freya, a woman, alone, wandering in this foreign uncharted land - is what keeps one reading this book.
As useful, informative, absorbing and interesting these books are or may be, I believe: it needs a person who truly understands Hadhramout and the Hadharem to write a book that is well worthy of this great, very old part of not only Arabia, but the Middle East. It needs a Hadhrami who has the time, the energy, the patience and the words to research and write a truly unbiased, in-depth and objective book on this very ancient part of the world. Not only on and of those dispersed out of it, but mainly of and on Hadhramout proper and its history, geography, people and culture.