[P4343] In the Neighborhood of War: Everyday specters of (dis-)order in Jordan

Created by Yazan Doughan
Friday, 11/18/16 5:45pm


In popular geo-political imaginaries of the Middle East, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan seems to hold a peculiar position. On the one hand, it is often referred to as "an oasis" or "a bastion" of "peace, security and stability" in "a turbulent region." On the other hand, it is sometimes referred to as an uncertain, precarious state: a country of refugees, lacking a long-standing urban culture, tribal, with limited natural resources and plagued by rampant corruption. In a way, it seems that Jordan has always existed in the neighborhood of war (the wars with Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973; the Lebanese civil war 1975-1990; the Iraq wars of 1991 and 2003; the ongoing Syrian war), it is always on the verge of collapse (in 1957, 1970 and during the Arab uprisings), but not really quite there. This specific status, however, speaks as much of geopolitics as of modern, liberal imaginaries of politics and "the political" resting as they are on the distinction between peace and war, order and disorder.

The papers of this panel take this peculiar position of Jordan within political imaginaries as an opportunity to explore how specters of peace and war, order and disorder structure everyday lives in Jordan and beyond. We explore how disorder haunts the present as a trace, a past that needs to be overcome or made justice to (e.g. in the life of refugees) justifying various short-term and long-term humanitarian interventions; how it haunts the present as a possible future (civil war, regional war, terrorist threats) and grounds various kinds of state interventions in the name of security and public order. We investigate how peace and prosperity too haunt the present --for example, through legal reforms, economic investment, reconstruction or development projects. We also seek to interrogate these long-standing distinctions to explore the various ways in which war can also be experienced as orderly and promising, and how the maintenance of peace and order can also be experienced as stifling and restricting, as something to be overcome. Our aim is to open up the study of these founding distinctions to empirical inquiry and investigate how they structure everyday life materially and practically. Jordan's marginal position between order and disorder, peace and war offers an excellent vantage point to do so.


Anthro; Pol Science




    Jillian M. Schwedler

    (Hunter College, CUNY)
    Jillian Schwedler is Professor of Political Science at the City University of New York, Hunter College and the Graduate Center. She is author of the award-winning Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen (Cambridge 2006) and most recently...
    Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;