Webinar “Rethinking the Nationhood in the Middle East: Jordan as a case study” (2022)


Photo : Amman, Jordan © Hisham Zayadnh, Unsplash

Webinar supported by Institut Sociétés en Mutation en Méditerranée (SoMuM), within the framework of the Najor@Mo project, "Repenser le national au Moyen-Orient : la Jordanie comme cas d’étude". Organizers: Taher Labadi, Ifpo, Simon Mangon, Mesopolhis, Norig Neveu, Iremam.


Over the past ten years, Jordan has sparked a growing interest in research on the Middle East. Many young researchers choose to work on this national context with very different disciplinary perspectives, sometimes comparative. This seminar aims to federate part of this research around a common reflection on the “Jordanian Nationhood”. We consider Jordan as a case study that reveals both the ongoing changes in this region of the world, and the approaches mobilized by academics to understand them. By interrogating the notion of a “nationhood”, we aim at identifying the specificities of the Jordanian case, and putting it into perspective with recurrent social, economic and political mechanisms at the regional or even international level.

La Jordanie tient depuis une dizaine d’années une place croissante au sein de la recherche sur le Moyen-Orient. Dans un contexte de crises polymorphes, de nombreux jeunes chercheurs choisissent de travailler sur cet espace national avec des perspectives disciplinaires, parfois comparatistes, très différentes. Ce séminaire se donne pour objectif de fédérer une partie de cette recherche autour d’une réflexion commune sur le « fait national jordanien ». Pays « carrefour » au projet national longtemps disputé ou contesté, y compris au sein des études académiques, la Jordanie constitue un observatoire privilégié des mutations en cours dans cette région du monde et des approches mobilisées pour les appréhender. Interroger la question nationale permettra par la même façon de poser en creux la question de la spécificité du terrain jordanien et de la mettre en perspective avec des mécanismes sociaux, économiques et politiques récurrents à l’échelle régionale voire internationale.


First Session

Tuesday 8th of February, 3.00-5.00 p.m (CET), online. Zoom Link / ID: 860 4217 7612 / Secret code: 761689

“The Nationhood in Jordan: historical approach, critical perspective” with Myriam Catusse (Ifpo) & Norig Neveu (Iremam).

This first session of the NaJor@Mo seminar aims to lay the groundwork for a reflection on the proposed approaches to the national fact in Jordan. How is the Nationhood and its counterpart, the State, understood or considered in the Middle East? In what way does Jordan appear as a particularism or, on the contrary, how does this case study allows to read recurrent dynamics in the region such as the tribal question, the contemporaneity of state constructions, colonial influences, etc.?

Second Session 

Tuesday 15th of February, 3.00-5.00 p.m (CET), online. Zoom Link / ID: 880 7734 0112 / Secret code: 832426

“Rethinking the Nationhood in the Middle East. Jordan as a case study: access to resources and transformations of the rural world”

During this session, we will investigate past and present transformations of the rural world in Jordan. In particular, we will discuss the challenges related to accessing agricultural land and water, in a context marked by desertification and a critical level of water scarcity. We will also explore rural livelihoods and labor, especially in relation to important social, political and economic challenges. This conversation will open up spaces to critically discuss the future of resources and the role of the rural world in present and future Jordan.

Ruba Al Zubi holds a M.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology and has over 20 years’ experience in the fields of sustainable development and green economy. Currently, she is the country director for the Sahara Forest Project Foundation in Jordan.
Allison Hartnett is an assistant professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California. Her research interests encompass comparative political economy, colonial legacies, rural politics, and state formation in the Middle East and North Africa.

Moderators: Myriam Fayad (ULB), Livia Perosino (IFPO, LAM), Taysir Mathlouthi (Sciences Po Paris).

Third Session

Tuesday 15th of March, 3.00-5.00 p.m (CET), online. Zoom Link / ID: 892 4629 1532 / Secret code: 784495

“Minoritization and Identities in Jordan”

For the third session, we will explore the question of nationhood in Jordan from a transnational and transhistorical perspective. In particular, we will shed light on the Ottoman legacy in relation to the process of minoritization and ask about its contemporary implications. What forms of belonging exist(-ed) in Jordan, and how do they relate to the Jordanian state? In what way did they continue and transform? How do multiple identities overlap? What are the minority-majority and inter-minority relations? And finally, what contemporary perceptions of Turkey circulate in Jordan?

Paolo Maria Leo Cesare Maggiolini: Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the Catholic University of Milan (Italy), Associate Fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies and he teaches in the Master in Middle Eastern Studies (MIMES) at the Alta Scuola di Economia e Relazioni Internazionali (ASERI).
Nur Köprülü: Associate Professor and Lecturer in the Department of International Relations at the Near East University. Specialized on the democratization movements and politics of identity in the Arab world in general, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in particular.

Cihat Toker: Master student and Eiffel Scholar in Religion and Society at Sciences Po Aix (France). His research aims to explore Turkey’s cultural diplomacy policies through Turkish soap operas in Jordan. Diana Ishaqat: Development practitioner and former Chevening Scholar with a Master’s in Media, Campaigning and Social Change from the University of Westminster. She is currently managing programs related to civic space and poverty challenges in Jordan and Lebanon. Her current research project is about the structure and governance of the Circassian community organizations in Jordan. Jasmine Benhaida: PhD Candidate at the University of Basel (Switzerland) and part of the Swiss National Fund project Ottoman Afterlife in Jordan and Iraq. Politics of Remembering and Forgetting in New Arab States (1920-1958). Her dissertation project examines the Ottoman Afterlife in Jordan by unearthing Women at the Sharia Courts of Amman and Al-Salt (1921-1967).

Fourth Session

Tuesday 19th of April, 3.00-5.00 p.m (CET), online. Zoom Link / ID: 861 3145 1538 / Secret code: 238976

“How and why to engage in politics in Jordan? A look into youth and women’s forms of political participation”

In Jordan, as elsewhere, youth and women are generally described as the spearheads of democratic reform and are often at the heart of reformist discourse produced both by the regime itself and by international donors. But what space for political engagement do they have today? How have the forms of their political participation evolved in Jordan, according to the periods of political opening or closing?

Daniele Cantini, senior research fellow at Halle University (Germany) and author of Youth and Education in the Middle East. Shaping Identity and Politics in Jordan (2016), who will talk about the forms of student political activism at the University of Jordan.
Rana Husseini, human rights activist, senior journalist writing for The Jordan Times and author of the book Years of struggle - the women's movement in Jordan (2021). We will be able to benefit from her valuable insight into the transformation of the conditions of political engagement of these women over the past decades. 

Eklas al Moadat, master student at Yarmouk University and working in enhancing Jordanian youth political participation. Louise Rautureau, master student at Sciences Po Grenoble in the "Integration and Transformation in the Middle East and Mediterranean" Master Program. Camille Abescat, PhD student at the Centre for International Research (Sciences Po Paris) and affiliated with the French Institute for the Near East.

Fifth Session

Tuesday 17th of May, 3.00-5.00 p.m (CET), online. Zoom Link / ID de réunion : 879 3292 6070 / Code secret : 198370 

“Reading, Writing, and Drawing the Nation: Cultural Production and Society in Jordan”  

This session aims to open a dialogue with two prominent cultural producers about their experiences navigating the media, arts, and literary landscapes of Jordan. While political and social theorists from Benedict Anderson to Partha Chatterjee have underscored cultural production’s centrality in crafting the nation-state, this session aims to examine and interrogate what this process looks like among writers, readers, and artists today in Jordan. Thus, this session asks: What role do books, newspapers, and the arts play in reinforcing—or, alternatively, foreclosing—collective social formations and modes of belonging? How are socioeconomic, professional, and cultural shifts shaping the trajectories and societal influence of cultural producers? In sum, what sort of work is cultural production, circulation, and consumption carrying out during the current moment in Jordan? 

Emad Hajjaj is a cartoonist who has worked with the daily periodical Al-Raʿi alongside other publications in Jordan and the Arab world more broadly. Widely known for his character Abu Mahjoob, Hajjaj has received numerous awards for his ability to portray—both creatively and incisively—everyday socioeconomic, cultural, and political dynamics.  

Omar Zakaria is an Amman-based novelist, creative non-fiction writer, and voice-over actor. He regularly writes for the Arabic-language periodicals Romman Magazine, Al Mutalammes Magazine, Boring Books Magazine, and Fusha Magazine. In 2021, he published the novel Al-Qurtubi: Awakened in Alexandria.  

Ismael Gil, University of Marburg ; Tariq Adely, George Washington University ; Pierre Delanghe, IEP Aix-en-Provence ; Inès Delpuech, INALCO/ENS Ulm, Paris. 

Sixth Session 

Tuesday 28th of June, 3.00-5.00 (CET), online. Zoom Link / Meeting ID: 970 0518 3952 / Secret Code: 157982

“Placing Literature in Jordan: A Dialogue on Narrative, Representation, and Space” 

This session aims to open a discussion regarding the interplay between literature, language, and place. At the crux of this session is a contention: that language and literature are not mere reflections of reality. Rather literature—as a medium—enacts social, material, and cultural effects, both shaping and being shaped by the locales and contexts in which it emerges and circulates. Literature, moreover, is not a static object but rather morphs as it moves between languages and landscapes. Thus, this session asks: What might we learn by tracing literature’s displacements and translations between varied geographies? How might this avenue of inquiry both illuminate and destabilize our taken-for-granted questions regarding cultural production and circulation in Jordan?

Fernanda Fischione is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellow carrying out TRANSECT, a project on the transnational circulation of Maghrebi national imaginaries through literature. She holds a Ph.D. from Sapienza University in Rome. Her area of expertise is modern and contemporary Arabic literature, with a special focus on space in literary criticism, namely Ghalib Halasa’s (1932-1989) treatment of narrative space. Alongside her academic activities, she is a literary translator from Arabic into Italian as well as the founder and editor of the magazine Arabpop: Rivista di arti e letterature contemporanee.

Tariq Adely, George Washington University ; Pierre Delanghe, IEP Aix-en-Provence ; Inès Delpuech, INALCO/ENS Ulm, Paris ; Ismael Gil, University of Marburg.