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Activism in Jordan

July 2, 2016 at 11:50 am

  • Book Author(s): Penelope Larzilliere (translated by Cynthia Schoch)
  • Published Date: May 2016
  • Publisher: Zed Books
  • Paperback: 231 pages pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-17836057434

Activism in Jordan is an interesting and informative read, offering a comprehensive analysis of the nature of political activism in the Hashemite Kingdom and the way that pluralism and political representation has evolved there. Jordan has enjoyed relative stability for a long time compared to its neighbours and has been seen as a safe refuge for victims of violence in neighbouring states. The kingdom currently hosts the third largest number of Syrian refugees and has also opened its borders to Palestinian and Iraqi refugees at times of crisis. The government has not isolated the country to prevent a Jordanian Arab Spring but has still managed to be relatively stable.

The author provides extensive background to the way that political activism in Jordan takes place. This includes how activism has evolved under the Hashemites to test the extent to which Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. Larzilliere has examined for our benefit how activists conducted themselves both before and after the Arab Spring, thus bringing its development to life.

What makes Jordan an interesting example is that the political system seeks to include tribal leaders as well as political groups. Activism in Jordan highlights this and sets out the dynamics that come with it, managing to reveal the multi-dimensional nature of what is an under-examined topic.

In exploring activism within Jordan, the author demonstrates how different political groups overlap and differ in their relationships with the state. The Muslim Brotherhood, for example, has been vocal about social change and advocating the Islamisation of Jordan, which is opposed by many other parties, but the movement has also called for the reduction of tribal influence in Jordanian politics; in this the Brotherhood has been supported by more nationalist and secular groups which usually oppose it. The issue of pro-Palestine activism is also covered extensively, revealing how the Palestinian struggle has been interpreted across Jordanian politics.

Student politics has a great deal of influence over opinions and activism, and is connected to wider society. Larzilliere looks at how students and adults who decide to pick up on political activism later in life have conducted their careers.

Overall, Activism in Jordan is a fascinating read. It is researched thoroughly and its arguments are well developed in a way that is both organised and easy to follow. Penelope Larzilliere has made a valuable contribution to the literature on what is a vast topic, and has simplified it in such a way that not only covers important aspects but also does them justice in a very satisfying way.