Arvid Lundberg, PhD student, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

al-Harakat and the Political Culture of Jordan's Arab Spring

The thesis describes the disunity within al-harakat, the protest movements that emerged in Jordan in 2011, and it uses ethnographic material and interviews from some of the key actors and events in the history of these movements: e.g., from the protest movement in Dhiban, which many Jordanian political activists regard as the beginning of ”Jordan's Arab Spring”; from the protest movement in Haie al-Tafileh, one of the strongest protest movements in Amman in 2011; from the Higher Committee for Military Veterans, an organization led by retired military officers, who stood for the first – among the military – organized expression of discontent against the regime in the country's recent history; and from attempts to coordinate the protest movements' demands and strategies through the umbrella organization Youth of 24 March.

In all these meetings, conferences, and activities, there was a group of political activists who claimed to understand why the protest movements fragmented and tried countering this by coordinating the protest movements, institutionalizing them and getting them to work together to develop concrete alternatives to Jordan's current constitution, election and political party law, and to create an institution that oversees that the security services do not intervene in the parliamentary elections, and so on. Several of these activists had been members of a Jordanian political party, but were now politically independent because of what they perceived as an authoritarian political culture and certain ideological dead ends within these parties. These activists were driven by a, in a Jordanian context, relatively new understanding of political activism, which has similarities with the reformulation of the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany that began in the late 19th century and the reformulation of the opposition movements in Eastern Europe where especially Solidarity was pioneers. The thesis is a study of a Jordanian reformulated activism in 2011, which never became dominant among the protest movements, and it is in this respect a counterfactual study of Jordan's Arab Spring.

Examiner: Leif Stenberg, Professor, Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University.

All seminars in the series.