Ambivalent States: Paradoxes of Subjection in the Jordanian South

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This paper explores the passionate attachments that underpin subjection to political authority. It does so through an examination of the ways residents of the Jordanian city of Ma‘an are formed by, respond to and live with stateness. Rather than unpacking the prosaic practices through which the state comes to appear as an external structure, it probes the forms of agency and affective connection that emerge from life amidst these practices, exploring some of their effects and conditions of possibility. Far from calling for the Jordanian state’s downfall or demise, Ma‘anis call for the state’s redemption, in a circuitous cycle that only intensifies their conviction in an object of desire that so dependably thwarts their aspirations. Drawing on the work of Judith Butler and Lauren Berlant, this paper argues that while the assurances and consolations the state offers can be entered into in any number of ways, subjectivities in its midst may very well be marked by a constitutive ambivalence that is difficult to escape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-407
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number2
Early online date5 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

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