Panel 3d Reform, Identity and Subversion in Jordan

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Chair: Dr Alan George, Senior Associate Member, University of Oxford

Paper 1: Home-grown Reform – An analysis of Jordanian Policies for Good Governance
Martin Säfström, Director of Studies, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Department of Oriental Languages, Stockholm University

This paper is part of a larger research project and a potential doctoral dissertation, the aim of which is to compare the ideas of good governance in the EU (as stated in the European Neighbourhood Policy) with those in Jordan. The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyse the reforms that have been taken in Jordan regarding good governance, with a focus on the period following the Arab spring and on identifying what the regime means by good governance.

Paper 2: Theorising Political Revolution: The Dynamics of Online Subversion in Jordan Pre-Arab Spring
Lucy Abbott, PhD candidate, Durham University

While many observers have expressed surprise at the recent uprisings in several Arab states, one reason for this, this paper argues, is on account of how the subject of structural political transformation in Arab states has been approached. Macro-level normative concepts underpinned by public sphere theory link the presence of a ‘public sphere’ with political democracy and as a result the nature of subversion has been characterised as a sudden Pan-Arab phenomenon. A transnational ‘Arab’ public sphere concept has emerged from the literature, which views public debate as a central foundational element of a political public sphere oriented toward political revolution. This paper highlights opportunities for the transmission of subversive political agency using examples from Jordanian new media venture, in the run-up to the Arab Spring. It argues that such uncontested normative concepts reinforce a vertical institutional perspective of political change or transformation. This ultimately obscures those micro-scale informal communicative exchanges necessary for the creation of  public debate within the public sphere in an authoritarian setting that would ultimately result in a political ‘structural transformation’.

These are abridged versions of the abstracts submitted by  the presenters.

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