top of page

CAORC Congratulates this Year's AIYS U.S. Scholars Research Fellows

CAORC congratulates the new cohort of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS) U.S. Scholars Research Fellowship! AIYS has awarded a fellowship to Gokh Amin Alshaif (University of California, Santa Barbara), who plans to carry out research in The British Library in London, England on the social history of Black Yemenis in the 19th and 20th century, with a focus on the marginalized Muhamasheen community. Sara Swetzoff (Howard University/ Eastern Connecticut State University) was also awarded a fellowship and she plans to travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to carry out her project on the political imagination in the context of community organizing, political advocacy, and collective subjectivities. Their abstracts can be found below.

AIYS was founded in 1978 and is a member of CAORC. AIYS aims to promote research on Yemen, preserve Yemeni heritage, and promote research and scholarly exchange between academics in the U.S. and Yemen. AIYS takes on varied projects within Yemen such as restoration, preservation, and architectural reconstruction and documentation as well as fellowship programs. AIYS annually holds two competitions for fellowship programs supporting research on Yemen, one for U.S. citizens and one for citizens of the Republic of Yemen.

AIYS and CAORC jointly run the AIYS U.S. Scholars Fellowship competition. This fellowship is for U.S. scholars of all disciplines to conduct research on Yemen. AIYS provides essential resources for the support of research on Yemen and the development of academic ties between the Yemeni and American academic communities. The purpose of this fellowship is to encourage and support scholarly research that fosters greater understanding of Yemen, its history, culture, and impact.

The next call for AIYS U.S. Scholars Fellowship will launch December, 2022. To learn more about AIYS Fellowships click here.


Gokh Amin Alshaif

PhD Student, Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Project Title: “Black Yemenis in 19th and 20th Century Yemen”

Abstract: This project is interested in the social history of Black Yemenis in the 19th and 20th century. Specifically, it focuses on the marginalized Muhamasheen community. This community has continuously lived in Yemen for several centuries and many Muhamasheen claim Yemeni indigeneity. Yet, conventional wisdom still posits members of this community as “outsiders” and “Africans.” Native Outsiders explores what these internal outsiders can teach us about a multiplicity of “Yemens” that existed from the 1840s to the 1980s. It traces Muhamasheen subjectivity, labor relations and structures, gendered norms, and lived experiences. Throughout, the project centers race as an analytical and experiential category. It argues that the Muhamasheen’s historical and ongoing marginalization and their 'untouchability' pose hitherto unexplored intersections of caste, racialization, and anti-blackness. Situated at the intersections of Middle East Studies, Black Studies, and Indian Ocean Studies, Native Outsiders hopes to challenge our understandings of territorial and racial categories. It does so by reconceptualizing Yemen as a global anchor of the Middle East, East Africa, and South Asia.


Sara Swetzoff

Graduate Student, African Studies & Political Science, Howard University / Adjunct Faculty, Eastern Connecticut State University

Project Title: “The Ethio-Yemeni Political Imagination”

Abstract: Thousands of Yemeni refugees and Ethiopian returnees impacted by the Yemen war have forged a community in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. Their networks crisscross the Red Sea and extend to Somaliland and Kenya. Their community also overlaps with longtime Yemeni residents of Ethiopia (muqeemeen) and Ethio-Saudi returnees. Despite the significant longstanding relationship between Yemen and Ethiopia, this particular migrant experience is often overlooked in the study of the Yemen war and Yemeni refugees. This project proposes to build off my dissertation research by expanding on the topic of political imagination in the context of community organizing, political advocacy, and collective subjectivities.

This program is funded by CAORC through a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.


bottom of page