Research seminar in cultural anthropology: The liberalization of Jordanian political culture: The new Maan with Arvid Lundberg

  • Date: –12:00
  • Location: Engelska parken Rum Eng/3-2028
  • Lecturer: Arvid Lundberg, Uppsala University
  • Organiser: Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology together with Engaging Vulnerability Research Seminar
  • Contact person: Mats Utas
  • Seminarium

The Arab Spring showed that democratization in the Arab world seldom follows from an uprising against an authoritarian regime. Rather, democratization depends on slower changes. But what kind of changes?

The research project I am now initiating answers that question by studying a case where political liberalization is connected to a broader cultural change: the transformation of the political and social culture of Maan, a desert town in southern Jordan. This transformation is about the emergence of political parties, but also of certain forms of education and social life. The change is not only about a new national identity or a stronger civil society, but about something else, which several of Maan’s young residents call infitāḥ (openness), and which they contrast with the social and political landscape their parents grew up in. What is the character of infitāḥ? What can it teach us about the cultural foundations of political liberalization in the Arab world? And how does this “openness” differ from ideals that are associated with liberalism in a European context? The seminar will give theoretical and political context to these questions—based on results of my PhD—and propose some directions for how they can be answered through fieldwork in southern Jordan.

Arvid Lundberg has conducted anthropological fieldwork in Syria and Jordan, focusing on political culture and democratization. He has a PhD from Stockholm University and is currently a research fellow at the Engaging Vulnerability research program at Uppsala University, where he is starting a three-years long research project, The liberalization of Jordanian political culture: The new Maan, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond