EUME Berliner Seminar
Wed 01 Jul 2015 | 17:00–18:30

States of Care and Corruption: Notes from Amman

Yazan Doughan (University of Chicago / Affiliated EUME Fellow 2014/2015), Chair: Nada Moumtaz (Ohio State University / EUME Fellow 2014/2015)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Yazan Doughan
(University of Chicago / Affiliated EUME Fellow 2014-15)

Chair: Nada Moumtaz
(Ohio State University / EUME Fellow 2014-15)

Yazan’s dissertation, “Fasād, Authority and the Discursive Production of Reform and Revolution in Jordan”, is an ethnography of governance, political action and mobilization drawing on fieldwork conducted at Amman’s municipality and poor neighborhoods during the wave of protests in 2011-12. The dissertation grapples with the salience of the concept of fasād (corruption) during the protests among discourses and during events leading up to them since the economic crisis in the late 1980s. Rather than starting from a sociological definition, the dissertation looks at how fasād is used and materialized in political practice and discourse—by political activists, ordinary Jordanians, and state actors—as a diagnostic of “what went wrong” and a form of intervention or criticism. It considers how people use fasād to make sense of their living conditions, their anticipated life trajectories and relations to political authority. In so doing, the dissertation touches upon a set of interrelated themes: the production and foreclosure of personal and collective futures; the shifting meanings of governance and citizenship from personal care to impersonal market-informed citizenship; the ethical and pragmatic dimensions of the political critique of fasād; and the intertwinement of secular and religious understandings of the concept.

Yazan Doughan is an anthropologist combining a semiotic approach to the study of culture with anengagement with social and cultural theory. His work brings a semiotic-practice perspective to bear on the study of politics, authority, temporality, urbanism and globalization in the contemporary Middle East. In a general sense, his work investigates how cultural knowledge received from the past (tradition) is made relevant  in addressing concerns and questions posed in the present, and how this is related to notions of progress (modernity), and to perceptions of a unitary world with shared cultural values (globalization). He is completing his PhD in Anthropology at the University of Chicago from which he also holds a M.A. degree in the same discipline. He also holds an M.A. in Critical Media and Cultural Studies from SOAS—University of London, as well as a BSc. in Architecture from the University of Jordan. Yazan’s doctoral dissertation investigates the generative role of the concept of fasād (corruption) during the wave of protests in Jordan in 2011-12 and in political discourses and events leading up to them since the late 1980s. His earlier work investigated the emergence of a Jordanian linguistic register of ‘Āmmiyya (Low) Arabic  in relation to the social and a political transformation since the emergence of the modern nation state.

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