From Collective Memory to Nationalism: Historical Remembrance in Aden
Davis, Kevin Alexander
In Aden, the former capital of the People's Democratic Republic of South Yemen, a popular nationalist movement has emerged demanding a rescinding of the unification agreement that joined north and south Yemen in 1990. This paper explores the way in which history is being remembered, framed, and utilized to create a sense of coherent national identity rooted in historical understandings in Aden. This study draws upon ethnographic research and interviews conducted in Aden, Yemen and analyzes the social, political, and economic forces that have influenced this nationalist awakening. I focus on the concept of collective memory to explore how southerners are framing their understandings of a national past in light of current everyday realities and how new conceptions of Aden's colonial and socialist past are invoking new senses of nostalgia for remembered notions of liberal urban lifestyles. Drawing on theoretical works in the fields of collective memory and nationalism, I also examine the power structures that allow for certain narratives to become accepted while others are silenced, both in the context of a unified Yemen and within the south itself. I attempt to build upon the established link between collective memory and nationalism by exploring not just how collective memory can function as a vehicle for historical reimagining but also the diverse vectors that shape Adeni's national consciousness. I argue that Aden's remembered history has led to a reimagining of national borders and a sense of belonging in the larger Yemeni nation.
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