St John's College Oxford
Dr Paul Dresch

Dr Paul Dresch

Fellow by Special Election in Social Anthropology


Part of the fun is the sheer range of topics in Social Anthropology, from kinship to states and power, by way of colour-classification, concepts of time, social memory, ethnicity and much else. I lecture for undergraduate courses in Archaeology and Anthropology and in Human Sciences, as well as to graduate students in Anthropology. I am also the organising tutor for Archaeology and Anthropology at St John's, and I tutor St John's undergraduates in Social Anthropology both for first-year exams and finals.

Research Interests

So far, I have worked and written mainly on the Arab World. My great ethnographic love is Yemen, which I visit regularly. I have also done fieldwork in the United Arab Emirates, and my research students in recent years have worked in Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, as well as Iran and even northern India. My main research interests are in comparative historiography, politics, and (lately) law. For an idea of what I do, see my books "Tribes, Government and History in Yemen" (Oxford 1989) and "A History of Modern Yemen" (Cambridge 2001). More recently I published "The Rules of Barat: texts and translations of tribal documents from Yemen" (Sanaa 2006), which deals with eighteenth-century pacts on customary law. I have also co-edited a number of volumes: with Wendy James and David Parkin, "Anthropologists in a Wider World: essays on field research" (2000); with Pierre Bonte and Edouard Conte, "Emirs et Présidents: figures de la parenté et du politique dans le monde arabe" (2001); and with James Piscatori, "Monarchies and Nations: globalisation and identity in the Arab States of the Gulf" (2005). Among my smaller publications recently is a chapter on nineteenth-century Arabia for Volume 5 of the new "Cambridge History of Islam" (2008).