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Great expectations. Southern Yemeni youth, unemployment and marriage crisis
My paper will discuss Southern Yemeni young people's expectations about the role the state should play in building the country's future. Born during the turbulent years of Yemeni unity, these young people have learned from their parents about the relatively stable times of the PDRY when everybody had a job and no corruption prevailed. In the face of massive youth unemployment, wide-spread land theft, favouritism and patronage system that the rule of Ali Abdullah Salih has brought about in the South, disillusionment has spread among the youth. For young men, unemployment means postponed marriage plans, too, and emotional frustration. In response, the young people I met in the Southern Yemeni town of Aden, the former capital of the PDRY, have created ideas of a fair state by drawing on the imagined fairness of the previous regime. During that time, with a state job every young man could afford to marry, as it was legislated in the Family Law (1974). While times are dramatically different today, the ideal state, in the mind of these young people, is the one who hires everyone into the happy family of the nation. My paper explores the discrepancies between youthful expectations and economic realities among politically active young people in Aden. The paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork in Yemen during the course of the late 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, altogether three years.
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Middle East/Near East Studies