Jordan’s image oscillates between that of a rentier state dependent on international aid, and that of an “island of peace and stability” in the process of democratization in a region afflicted by several armed conflicts. This research project goes beyond both assumptions, analyzing the functioning of the Jordanian state by focusing on the local actions of one of its main partners, the European Union (EU).
For forty years, the EU has promoted a “good governance” model in Jordan in matters of security, border control, political pluralism, and freedom of speech. This model is defined by – among other things – the priority that is given to “stability” in the country, and by the technification of its programs. The high level of technicity contributes to the neutralization of political issues and the preservation of the status quo. As for Jordanian authorities, they appropriate and propagate those political standards in order to present the country as a shining example of reform. At the same time, authorities limit the scope of some of those extra-national standards and control their implementation. The reformist façade of the government attempts to conceal coercive practices which betray the defining features of an authoritarian regime.
This research project aims to study the Jordanian state and its reconfigurations through the European Union’s actions. We want to analyze the way in which the two entities coproduce public action in Jordan, from the setting of the agenda to the implementation. The purpose is to debunk the myth of neutral and apolitical aid imposed by the donor and passively received by Jordan. On the contrary, the prioritization and implementation of aid programs are at the heart of daily negotiations and tensions, mainly among the various intermediate players (EU representatives in Jordan, national elites, “civil society” partners, experts, population groups considered as beneficiaries). This project mainly focuses on the compromise that emerges from those negotiations. We wish to shed light on the hybridity of the Jordanian regime, in which authoritarian practices coexist with a veneer of technicality on a so-called democratic system. This study proposes to examine the ways in which this hybridity is constructed and legitimized day by day.
The project is based on a series of multisite field studies, combining semi-structured interviews and participant observation. Our micro-sociological approach aims to identify the areas of interaction between European policy designers, implementers in Jordan, and population groups perceived as beneficiaries. EU policies will also be analyzed transversally, through various key sectors of intervention, such as support to “democracy” and “good governance”, security issues, and humanitarian aid.
The project will result in the publication of a brief by a team of international researchers, in various formats (political analyses, interviews, narrative inquiries). Multiple data visualization tools will be used (maps, computer graphics, photo reports). After the publication of the brief, a seminar will be organized, where other researchers will be invited to discuss research issues based on various case studies.
The project will be headed by Emma Empociello (PhD candidate at CED in Sciences Po Bordeaux, associated with IFPO), Simon Mangon (PhD candidate at the CHERPA Laboratory in Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence, associated with IFPO) and Camille Abescat (PhD candidate at CERI in Sciences Po, associated with IFPO). It will last for two years (2021-2023) and relies on a partnership between Noria Research, Sine Qua Non and the French Institute of the Near East .