From 18-22 August, our second summer school on “Academic Approaches to Peace-building and State-building in Yemen” took place in Amman. Yemeni and German doctoral and graduate students, activists and researchers came together to discuss issues relating to state-building in times of (violent) conflict, our own roles in research and a range of topics relating to the conflict in Yemen. Even though the airport in Sana’a remains closed nearly all our participants from Yemen were able to join us in Amman. Everyone appreciated the long and dangerous way they took to the airport in Aden in order to be part of this summer school, especially given the fact that one Yemeni student was unable to participate because he was kidnapped two days prior to the beginning of their journey.
We started our summer school with small presentations, freeze frames and story-telling exercises that served the get to know one another and to learn about our own positionality and that of our colleagues as academics. We also discussed experiences with conflict in our own lives as well as gaps in the dissemination and reception of academic output worldwide. The introduction slots were completed with group work in which we presented and discussed about our ongoing or finished research projects, methodologies used and problems encountered. A main focus of our summer school was placed on group work that served to identify, discuss and elaborate on the benefits and pitfalls of supporting local governance institutions in times of (violent) conflict, amongst others through a writing exercise that will lead to a publication in the framework of this project. This program was complemented by theatrical enactments of experiences with local governance as well as presentations on Yemen focusing on mental health issues, waste management, the performance of local councils, the governance of water and gender-related issues, security sector reform and education.