Facultat de Geografia i Història - Universitat de Barcelona

Dimecres 7/11/2012

Dijous 8/11/2012

Divendres 9/11/2012

Dissabte 10/11/2012

Dijous 8 de Novembre de 2012, 16:00h

Illiberal Amman: Urbanism and Uprising in the Hashemite Kingdom

Najib B Hourani (Michigan State University, USA)

Department of Anthropology Global Urban Studies Program



As the more dramatic uprisings – those in Egypt, Libya and now Syria – have progressed into a second year, events in Jordan seem small and insignificant. Indeed, “Arab Spring” in Jordan has been largely dismissed as minor agitation by the perpetually disgruntled, unable to challenge a moderate and popular monarch.


Drawing upon contemporary fieldwork and the tools of anthro-history, I examine the protests in the Jordanian capital of Amman, and uncover a far different dynamic. Once placed within a longer historical context, I argue how the uprising unites multiple strands of resistance to the contemporary project of neoliberalization as they impact and work through property relations in central Amman.


Indeed, since the arrival of the British Mandate after WWI, I argue, the urban property regime has been a primary source of economic opportunity, wealth and political power. Accordingly, the property regime has been a primary source of contestation between powerful networks of capitalists seeking power and position at the local, national and now regional and global scales.


Twenty years of property regime neoliberalization, I argue, set the stage for the current Jordanian demonstrations. Indeed, the Amman city center, home to the popular souqs, is a central battlefield in a class war for urban space and the legal framework that produces it. This conflict today pits traders seeking to retain rights for themselves and their families in the bustling souq against a newly globalized financial mercantile oligarchy seeking to redevelop the area through massive public-private mega-projects and tourism development. In challenging the reorganization of property that began with the 1994 Law of Owners and Tenants, the uprising constitutes a successful counter attack against forces of capitalist globalization that, through the city, seek to consolidate politico economic power into fewer, more distant hands.