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Nationalist Voices in Jordan

The Street and the State

By Betty S. Anderson

Publication Year: 2005

According to conventional wisdom, the national identity of the Jordanian state was defined by the ruling Hashemite family, which has governed the country since the 1920s. But this view overlooks the significant role that the “Arab street”—in this case, ordinary Jordanians and Palestinians—played and continues to play in defining national identity in Jordan and the Fertile Crescent as a whole. Indeed, as this pathfinding study makes clear, “the street” no less than the state has been a major actor in the process of nation building in the Middle East during and after the colonial era. In this book, Betty Anderson examines the activities of the Jordanian National Movement (JNM), a collection of leftist political parties that worked to promote pan-Arab unity and oppose the continuation of a separate Jordanian state from the 1920s through the 1950s. Using primary sources including memoirs, interviews, poetry, textbooks, and newspapers, as well as archival records, she shows how the expansion of education, new jobs in the public and private sectors, changes in economic relationships, the establishment of national militaries, and the explosion of media outlets all converged to offer ordinary Jordanians and Palestinians (who were under the Jordanian government at the time) an alternative sense of national identity. Anderson convincingly demonstrates that key elements of the JNM’s pan-Arab vision and goals influenced and were ultimately adopted by the Hashemite elite, even though the movement itself was politically defeated in 1957.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-viii

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. ix-x

To do the research that I needed to complete my book, I received financial support from a Fulbright grant, American Center for Oriental Research/United States Information Agency grants, and a UCLA History Department research grant. With these grants, I was able to live in Jordan for two years and then return there for additional...

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1. THE WRITING OF A NATIONAL NARRATIVE

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pp. 1-11

The quotes above come from history textbooks published by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1959 and 1975, respectively. The theme of these quotes and of the textbooks as a whole is: The Hashemites are Jordan; Jordan is the Hashemite family. A sample sentence says, “The Arabs in Jordan welcomed Emir 'Abdullah bin Husayn with a great...

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2. THE “DOMAINS” OF NATIONAL IDENTITY

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pp. 12-32

The history of Jordan and Palestine illustrates that ideology does matter; that debates about national identity can alter day-to-day events and relationships. In Partha Chatterjee’s terms, the “domains” of national identity give structure and meaning to new state institutions and feelings of shared experiences.4 In Jordan and Palestine, the debates...

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3. CONCEIVING TRANSJORDAN 1921–1948

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pp. 33-60

As 'Abdullah took over the governance of the new Emirate of Transjordan in 1921, the most immediate problems involved subduing the tribes and extending the reach of governmental power to all corners of the state. Yet underlying these more practical concerns was a key question about the long-term survivability of the Hashemite leadership over this fragile...

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4. HASHEMITES AND JORDANIANS 1921–1948

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pp. 61-83

As the concept of Transjordanian statehood and nationality came to be accepted in people’s minds, any who opposed the process needed to rally around an alternative national identity. Arab nationalism came to serve that purpose because its broad goals and definitions allowed its proponents to work on the domestic political stage in Transjordan...

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5. HASHEMITES AND PALESTINIANS 1921–1948

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pp. 84-116

The Hashemite state had used the interwar period to establish its top-down approach to nation-building, “working” to establish for itself a legitimate place in the population’s eyes. When the initial indigenous opposition movement disintegrated, governmental and nongovernmental agencies served to acclimatize the population to the existence...

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6. FORGING THE JORDANIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT ( JNM)

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pp. 117-146

The Mandate period in Transjordan and Palestine had seen key groups in both populations turn into political activists. Agencies for change, meant to bring people into the respective national projects, succeeded to a certain extent in Transjordan, as more people came to support the Hashemite state. Some, for example, would channel this support through...

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7. OPPOSITION AND COOPERATION: THE STATE AND THE JORDANIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT ( JNM) 1952–1956

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pp. 147-169

The 1950s witnessed a confluence of events that catapulted the Jordanian National Movement ( JNM) to prominence in national affairs. With the assassination of King 'Abdullah and the ascension to the throne of Talal and then Husayn, the political system became less controlled from the top, less engineered by the Hashemites. This opening...

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8. SUCCESS AND FAILURE: THE JORDANIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT ( JNM) 1956–1957

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pp. 170-191

The period between October 1956 and April 1957 saw the political climax and then the fall of the Jordanian National Movement ( JNM) as a unified political actor on the Jordanian scene.4 Because of its enormous popularity, King Husayn appointed one of its leaders, Sulayman al-Nabulsi, to serve as prime minister of Jordan’s first nationalist...

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9. THE HASHEMITES ASCENDANT

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pp. 192-205

How could Jamal al-Sha'ir, a member of the Ba'th Party, say by 1998 that “If the Hashemite throne goes, Jordan goes”? Are the Hashemites Jordan and Jordan the Hashemite family? Had the Hashemites “won,” as King 'Abdullah declared in his memoirs? Is this a pragmatic recognition of political reality? To achieve this status after 1957,...

NOTES

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pp. 207-243

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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pp. 245-269

INDEX

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pp. 271-288


E-ISBN-13: 9780292796874
E-ISBN-10: 0292796870
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292706101
Print-ISBN-10: 0292706103

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2005

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Subject Headings

  • Opposition (Political science) -- Jordan.
  • Jordan -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • National characteristics, Jordanian.
  • Arab nationalism -- Jordan.
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