Ugly Feelings of Greed

The Misuse of Friendship in Working-Class Amman

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
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Abstract

In the eastern part of Jordan's capital, Amman, where women maintained friendships through the exchange of help and support, accusations of maslaha (opportunism) had the potential to undermine relationships. Those accusations generated ugly feelings characterized by a confusion between the things wrong with oneself that make one vulnerable to the problem of maslaha and the things wrong with Jordanian society that make maslaha so widespread. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in one East Amman neighbourhood, Tal al-Zahra, between 2011 and 2015, this article explores the ways that encounters with maslaha felt ugly, the way these ugly feelings generated critiques of contemporary Jordanian morals, and the role of these feelings in generating ethical reflection by prompting women to see themselves as separate from, and critical of, the societies in which they live.

Contributor Notes

Susan MacDougall is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck-Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy, and Social Change at the University of Cambridge. She completed her DPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford in 2017, and received funding from the Fulbright Foundation, the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) at the University of Oxford, the Sijal Institute, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation to support her research in Jordan between 2011 and 2015.

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