The Southern Movement was born in protest in 2007 against the marginalization of South Yemenis since Yemeni unification in 1990. The movement aims at reestablishing an independent state on the territory of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, which united with the Yemen Arab Republic in 1990 to form the Republic of Yemen. Since its emergence, the Southern Movement has challenged official state versions of the past, concentrating attention on the suppressed South Yemeni experiences and taking over the role of reprocessing the past as well as allowing remembrance from below. As a result, a counternarrative has formed that opposes the national unity narrative of the Republic of Yemen.
Slogans are an integral part of the protest culture in South Yemen. They are ideological bricks in the structure of resistance of the Southern Movement and the means for transmitting the major claims of the movement to the outside world. Their content touches upon the collective memory, reminding protesters of their common objectives as well as common enemy, in turn having effects on the dissemination of the Southern Movement’s counternarrative.
Using specific examples from my ethnographic research on the Southern Movement, I illustrate that slogans are significant sources of the movement’s counternarrative and are used in very different circumstances – not only during protests of the movement but also in school gatherings – to strengthen the desire for independence.