A Revisitation of Religious Syncretism in Twentieth Century Yemen


  • Charles Taylor


This paper makes the case that current studies of hybridity in Yemeni religion would benefit from the adoption of more critical and granular typology. Hybrid religious systems in Yemen are examined and analyzed. The work of the scholar of Yemeni religion in the twentieth century, Dr. Eraqi-Klorman, is the primary source for the Yemeni religious phenomena examined and her conclusions are reevaluated using a new framework. The paper makes the case that uncritical use of the terminology around religious hybridity can lead to the legitimization of asymmetric power dynamics, if unwittingly. The categorization system of Ernest Gellner is put forward as especially helpful and likely to avoid this consequence. The history of the use of the term "syncretism" in academia is also examined for the sake of context.