Protesting Jordan: Geographies of Power and Dissent


Protest has been a key method of political claim-making in Jordan from the late Ottoman period to the present day. More than moments of rupture within normal-time politics, protests have been central to challenging state power, as well as reproducing it—and the spatial dynamics of protests play a central role in the construction of both state and society. In this talk based on her new book, Protesting Jordan: Geographies of Power and Dissent (Stanford University Press, 2022), Jillian Schwedler considers how space and geography influence protests and repression, and, in challenging conventional narratives of Hashemite state-making, offers the first in-depth study of rebellion in Jordan.

Based on twenty-five years of field research, Protesting Jordan examines protests as they are situated in the built environment, bringing together considerations of networks, spatial imaginaries, space and place-making, and political geographies at local, national, regional, and global scales. Schwedler considers the impact of time and temporality in the lifecycles of individual movements. Through a mixed interpretive methodology, this book illuminates the geographies of power and dissent and the spatial practices of protest and repression, highlighting the political stakes of competing narratives about Jordan’s past, present, and future.


Dr. Jillian Schwedler is Professor of Political Science at the City University of New York’s Hunter College and the Graduate Center and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Crown Center at Brandeis University.  She is member of the editorial committee for Middle East Law and Governance (MELG) and elected member of the APSA Council, the governing board of the American Political Science Association. Previously, she has served leadership roles as chair of the Board of Directors and member the Editorial Committee of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), publishers of the quarterly Middle East Report.  She has also served as an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America. During the Spring 2020 semester, she was Visiting Professor and Senior Fulbright Scholar at the Center for Global and International Studies at the University of Salamanca, Spain.

Dr. Schwedler’s research currently focuses on contentious politics and political geography, particularly concerning protests in urban and peri-urban settings. Her books include the award-winning Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen (Cambridge 2006) and (with Laleh Khalili) Policing and Prisons in the Middle East (Columbia 2010).  Her articles have appeared in World Politics, Comparative Politics, Middle East Policy, Middle East Report, Middle East Critique, Journal of Democracy, and Social Movement Studies, among many others.  Her most recent books are Protesting Jordan: Geographies of Power and Dissent (Stanford University Press, 2022) and The Political Science of the Middle East: Theory and Research since the Arab Uprisings, author and co-editor with Marc Lynch and Sean Yom (Oxford University Press, 2022).