Panel 2J

Control and Resistance in Jordan

13.45 – 15.45
Chair: Imad El-Anis, Nottingham Trent University

King Abdullah’s Balancing Act: Neo-liberalism Versus ‘The Politics of Tradition’ in Post-Arab Spring Jordan

Imad El-Anis, Nottingham Trent University

A crisis in Jordanian politics and foreign policy-making has been brewing since the late 1990s. At the heart of this problem is the incompatibility of neo-liberal policies – including privatization, free trade, open borders, and business-friendly governance (e.g. transparency, anti-corruption) – on the one hand, and the traditional politics of vested interests – in particular, Wasta, nepotism, and public sector practices that favour East Bank Jordanians over West Bank (Palestinian) Jordanians – on the other. This study considers how the neo-liberal policies advocated by King Abdullah since his ascension to the throne in 1999 have led to the weakening of the traditional support base of the Hashemite monarchy. It also explores how, at the same time, these policies have been necessary for the Jordanian market to integrate into the global economy (an inevitable process) and to preserve stability in Jordan’s international relations (in particular by satisfying its main backers in Europe and the United States). This paper assesses the success of this balancing act and its effect on political and economic stability in Jordan in the post-Arab Spring era.

The Hashemite Pluralism: Policies of Integration and Control in Jordan

Shun Watanabe, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Japan

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has initiated several policies for national integration such as ‘Jordan First’ and ‘We Are All Jordan’. The country’s history of having people from various backgrounds as ruling elites strengthens this royal initiative. However, these integrative policies are yet to reach full effectiveness. On the other hand, it is also common for the Jordanian regime to use a divide-and-rule strategy that enables minority trans-Jordanian elites to oppress the majority Palestinian-Jordanians. This paper discusses how these two dimensions of the Jordanian regime’s strategies, national integration and divide-and-rule, work simultaneously in the ‘democratization’ process, which the late King Hussein had initiated in 1989 and King Abdullah has promoted. The questions this paper will pose are the following: why and how did the Jordan ruling regime take these two strategies at the same time? Under what conditions is it possible for the regime to pursue these policies? How did the regime integrate the ‘democratization’ process with these policies? Are there any changes through this process?  To answer these questions, this paper argues that it is important to focus on the ruling logic of the Hashemite monarchy, not just on seeing the regime as imposing authoritarianism. Especially, this paper analyses the issue of legitimacy, the historical state-building which the Hashemites embarked on, and the symbolic role of the royal family for national integration. Based on this understanding of the monarchical structure of the country, this paper also analyses the historical transformation of the ruling elites, focusing on the member of cabinets.

Site of Resistance or Apparatus of Acquiescence? Tactics at the Bakery

José Ciro Martínez, University of Cambridge

This paper explores the importance and impact of a set of actions through which bakers manipulate laws and regulations that seek to organize, manage and regulate how they do business. It builds on eighteen months of fieldwork conducted in Jordan, twelve of which were spent working in three different bakeries in the capital, Amman. Moving away from the idea that governmental interventions are simply imposed, the article looks in detail at the extensive social relations through which they are enacted. By honing in on the bakery, and examining arrangements between bakery owners, workers, consumers and ministerial employees, it illuminates modes of political agency that escape conventional binaries of domination/resistance, state/society and legality/illegality that dominate the literature in comparative politics and social movements. I argue against seeing these practices as easily categorized forms of resistance or frivolous acts of corruption or consumerism. Nor are they simply reinforcements of hegemonic control. Through the art of trickery, disruption and deception, ‘tactics’ at the bakery subvert the order of things to serve other ends. Foregrounding them in this analysis seeks not only to challenge views of power relations as strictly binary but to elucidate some of the ways in which citizens re-appropriate and refashion the neoliberal and authoritarian logics that pervade everyday life in Jordan.

Between Interdependence and Interplay: How Palestine Refugee Camps Evolved as a Considerable Actor in their Hosting Spacial System, the Case of Jordan

Dina Dahood Dabash, KU Leuven

Jordan is a small semi-arid and almost landlocked country with a population numbering at 6.2 million (DOS, 2016). Enjoying a distinct geopolitical situation, the area has since long been a regional and international migratory crossroads. Yet, it can be easily recognised that the two waves of Palestinian refugees (1948 and 1967) that were initially hosted in refugee camps[1] played a fundamental role in shaping the modern history of Jordan. Yet, and despite its clear –yet unspoken – impact over their settings, the camps remain as hidden and vague entities in national development decision making.

The research aims to shed the light over one facet of the complex matter of Palestine refugee camps; namely, the exploration of how the spatio-economic system of power that refugee camps enjoy, can be justly recognized within the Jordanian urban and regional policy-making practice. The research places itself within the discipline of urbanism, human geography and planning, where it attempts to investigate the tensions and interaction between humans and their places that host refugee camps. The inquiry aims to detect and describe modes of relations between camps and their settings within their regional filed. Main methods to be elaborated in this paper is histo-geographical tracing of the targeted setting (Marka and Zarqa refugee camps) .

[1] the overall management task of the camps is a full responsibility of the Department of Palestinians Authority (DPA) and the UNRWA

Mapping Al-Hirak Al-Shababi Al-Urduni (the Jordanian Youth Movement): Grievances, Aims, Structure and Ideology

Maria Blanco Palencia, University of Exeter and Marbella International University Centre

This paper analyses the form that dissent takes in Al-Hirak Al-Shababi Al-Urduni (the Jordanian Youth Movement) and the different constituencies and activists therein. The aim is to explore the structure of the movement, its degree of institutionalisation and its internal organisation. Moreover, the aim is to present the activists that take part in the movement and how they construct the movement’s ideology. This chapter argues that this movement is an informal, uninstitutionalized, horizontal, network-like organization. Furthermore, it argues that this movement mobilizes the concept of ‘youth’ and coalesces multiple ideologies. Overall, this movement contributes to re-defining what dissent looks like in Jordan today. Al-Hirak is unique in its mobilisation and of the concept of ‘youth’ in a country where the young people dominate the demographics. Other features of the Al-Hirak distinguish it. It has retained financial and political independence in the face of competition from larger, traditional, political parties and increasingly intolerant authorities. Its primordial focus on the domestic political scene also differentiates its politics. Despite this fresh approach Al-Hirak faces traditional and novel organisational challenges. Its focus on national politics allows it to bring together a range of varying ideological views yet consensus is not sought, thus perhaps limiting the directionality of the movement. More basic challenges such as travel funding, internal hierarchies were also discussed by interviewees. the Arab Spring in shaping new forms and expectations particularly among an educated and transnational youth. It also denotes that fundamental limits of a self-organised movement that seeks to limit ties to traditional.