Return migrants to Yemen from Eastern AfricaRetur migranter til Yemen fra det østlige Africa
For centuries migration has been of central significance for Yemeni society, and continues to be source of new inspiration and contestations. This paper takes outset in narratives of youth- and childhood experiences of Yemeni return migrants who used to live in Uganda, Eritrea and Djibouti, respectively. The paper is based on an approach to narrative analysis which finds the form of the narration as well as the contents of analytic relevance (Somers & Gibson 1994), thus the narratives are also approached as sites of subjectivation or the formation of subjectivity. In the paper I discuss the extent to which migrant experiences generally constitute a source of inspiration for imagining and working for transformations in gender ideologies and practices in the current life in Yemen of these return migrants. According to Levitt (2001) such inspiration will on certain conditions work as social remittances, providing in the first instance a critical view on norms and practices of the sending country, but the fact of having experienced different social norms in a different society may also as a second step become the outset for projected social change. In all three narratives, emphasis is on the surprise of finding, upon return, that social norms had changed in Yemen, in terms of a more restrictive approach to practices defined by gender. The return migrants all came to Yemen when they were still in their youth and they have had to accommodate to new gender norms upon their return in spite of an apprehension that they had lived ‘as Arabs’ all along in the society which was the destination for the migration of their parents.
Yemen; Muwallad; in - & outmigration
Main Research Area:
Gender Transformations in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, 2011