Material Obstacles to Protest in the Urban Built Environment

Insights from Jordan

in Contention
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  • 1 Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA jschwedler@gc.cuny.edu
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Abstract

How has the Jordanian state sought to police protests through control of material space? How have other changes to the built environment limited possibilities for protests? This article articulates the beginnings of a new typology for understanding how changes to the built environment can create obstacles to protests. I identify three distinct changes that have affected spaces of protest: (1) the spatial expansion of the city to accommodate population growth, absorb two major waves of refugees since 2003, and facilitate massive foreign investment in urban megaprojects; (2) infrastructural development, including urban sprawl, new bypass roads and overpasses, and the services necessary for the construction of megaprojects; and (3) the policing of spaces where protests had previously taken place, in part by rendering them inaccessible. I draw on archival material, elite interviews, and ethnographic observation of protests in Amman, Jordan.

Contributor Notes

Jillian Schwedler is Professor of Political Science at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and co-founder and co-director of the Sidi Bou Said School of Critical Protest Studies. Email: jschwedler@gc.cuny.edu

Contention

The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest

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