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Artistic Grounds: Aesthetic Politics and Contested Urban Space in Amman, Jordan

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This dissertation is an ethnography of an artistic neighborhood, Jabal al Luweibde in Amman. It aims to call attention to a spatial politics of art, distinct from the expressive or meaningful politics more often attended to in studies of art. Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, including extensive participant observation, interview, and archival research, this dissertation traces Jabal al Luweibde’s emergence as an artistic neighborhood and analyzes how, as artists center in this neighborhood, they rework boundaries of inclusion and exclusion along lines of class, gender, and national origin. It also examines how art’s rising political and economic power, closely tied to wider economic changes, has led to this neighborhood becoming known as a uniquely inclusive site, hailed by politicians and planners as an idealized image of Amman’s potential future. This neighborhood is a transformative site of political possibility in Amman, opening different futures, transforming communal boundaries, and setting the stage for confrontation. By tracing these developments, the dissertation develops theorization of a dynamic, agentive, urban politics, rooted in the structural and aesthetic impacts of discreet artistic practices.

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This item is under embargo until May 31, 2025.