This study of small, sedentary tribes of farmers and traders in the northern highlands of the Republic of Yemen is based on field research and local documents.
The tribes concerned have their territories in the rugged, mountainous region of Razih, west of the town of Sa'dah, and have existed there for centuries in much the same form.
Middle Eastern tribes are often regarded as disorderly, warlike and inherently opposed to states. The tribes of Razih defy these stereotypes. They have effective modes of governance based on written agreements, and an abiding concern for maintaining law and order, containing and resolving conflicts and minimizing violence. They also have a long history of symbiotic cooperation with states, though they opposed those which flouted their interests or ideals.
This book aims to understand the factors which have shaped and sustained this remarkable tribal politico-legal system by examining it within the context of its geographical and economic environment.