Research Focus

Emergence of Tribal and non-Tribal Constellations in Early Modern South Arabia

Portuguese quest for maritime routes to India also brought along their increased presence along the South Arabian shores, together with ensuing changes in defense architecture, firearms, and related elements of material culture. This challenge to Ottoman hegemony was counteracted by Istanbul’s move to reassert its position by expanding southward, thereby establishing itself in the Red Sea and the north-western parts of the Indian Ocean. Under these wider conditions of foreign rivalries over hegemony in South Arabia, the present research focus examines the emergence of changes in local community constellations of northwestern Khawlan and neighboring Tihama regions. These community relations comprise tribal as well as non-tribal groups in the areas between Sa’da and today’s coastal towns of Abu ‘Arish and Jizan. Main source genres to be examined include local historians’ chronicles, early Ottoman reports, and some accounts by European travelers. The underlying hypothesis works with the assumption of parallel processes of de-tribalization in the coastal plains and simultaneously, re-tribalization and more rigid unilineal orientations and ideologies in the highlands during these late medieval and early modern encounters.  

Researcher: Andre Gingrich

Last Update: 07.10.15