Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Jordan first: A history of the intellectual and political economy of Jordanian antiquity
by Corbett, Elena Dodge, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2009, 510; 3362463
Abstract (Summary)

Deploying archaeology and cultural heritage to cultivate the intangible realities and inevitabilities of the modern nation has been a phenomenon in Jordan as much as anywhere else in the Arab world. This project explores the importance of Jordan's archaeological sites and ancient locales in fostering a sense of national identity over the course of critical moments throughout the Kingdom's history.

Owing to Jordan's awkward existence as a modern state, its borders and population in flux and dependent on foreign assistance, the legitimacy of Jordan as a nation, and its study as such, has been open to question or dismissal. In line with other scholarship framing Jordanian history in the context of late Ottoman policies in southeastern Bilad al-Sham and the interplay between and management of imperial, monarchical and popular identities and interests in Jordan over time, this research analyzes the rhetoric and imagery of antiquity in creating the narrative of the modern state.

The lands that became Jordan lay among important religious foci of late 19th century Ottoman secular state and citizen-craft and efforts to give archaeological legitimacy to the narrative of the modern Ottoman Empire. The British had simultaneously cultivated an imperial framework for the archaeological and cultural heritage of the Arab lands that would comprise their Mandate. Theirs, and that of the Americans who followed, was an intellectual Protestant framework that, in a highly nuanced way, fixed the lands of Transjordan on the geographical fringes of the Holy Land and the Classical world.

The Hashemites have cultivated both Ottoman and British paradigms of Jordan's archaeological and cultural heritage, adding their own claims to legitimacy—Arabist, nationalist, religious and paternal. This official narrative, tweaked according to political and socio-economic circumstances, dominates popular and academic discourse about Jordan. That narrative, however, has been continuously contested and nuanced by competing and overlapping narratives and identities from both within Jordan and without, according to the geopolitical events and socio-economic circumstances that have affected all of Jordan's various peoples. It is in this context that recent national unity campaigns and neoliberal development drawing on images and rhetoric of antiquity can best be understood.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shissler, Ada Holly
School: The University of Chicago
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Middle Eastern history, Political science
Keywords: Arab nationalism, History of archaeology, Jordan, Jordanian history, National identity, Political economy
Publication Number: 3362463
ISBN: 9781109213881
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