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Bielefeld Graduate School

in History and Sociology

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Marie-Christine Heinze



Yemen through the janbiya. The social lives of daggers in Southwestern Arabia

This study investigates the 'social lives' (Appadurai 1986) of daggers in Yemen and thus contributes to the study of material culture. On the basis of ethnographic data, interview material as well as primary and secondary sources, the analysis takes a diachronic perspective on the incorporation of the Yemeni dagger, janbiya, into the daily practices of Yemenis. It comes to the conclusion that the janbiya - due its economic, political, social, legal and partially also spiritual relevance can be understood as a 'total social fact' (Mauss 1954). The study places special focus on its conflicting, yet connected utilizations as weapon on the one hand and item of dress on the other.

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