Migrations in Jordan: (counter-)narratives of whom and for what?
May 2-3, 2023
at Ifpo Amman
Amal Khaleefa (Post-doctoral Researcher, Ifpo, ITHACA)
Valentina Napolitano (Researcher, IRD – LPED, ITHACA)
Zineb Abbar (M.A Student, University Paris Cité)
Jordan is a unique observatory of migratory dynamics because it has a long-time history of migration going back to the creation of the Emirate in 1921 (Armenians, Chechens, Druze, Circassians, etc.). These migrations have since been joined by others, primarily Palestinian refugees after 1948, Iraqis from the 1990s onwards, and Syrians since 2011, Yemeni, Sudanese and Somali since 2015. Currently, almost a third of the Jordan’s population is registered with UNRWA (nearly 2.3 million refugees from Palestine) and with UNHCR (about 750,000 refugees of other origins). However, these numbers are far from reflecting the reality on the ground which is more complex and diverse in terms of status and living conditions. Moreover, the public debate about migrants in Jordan often represents them as a “burden” or a “threat” to the social, economic and political stability of the country. Wishing to go beyond this mainstream political narrative, this symposium will explore (counter–)narratives on migrations in Jordan, showing the way migrations contribute actively to the country’s social fabric.
The concept of the narrative allows us to ask: who talks about migrants and why? Who are the protagonists and mediators of migrant histories? How do power relations shape the production of these narratives? In what way is the narrative an adequate concept to capture migrants’ unheard and invisibilized histories? Who benefits from these narratives and what is their impact on social representations and interaction between refugee and host communities? What is the role of archives and archiving in shaping migrant narratives?
By adopting a « bottom-up » approach to migration narratives and practices, this symposium aims to contribute to deconstructing the victimization and security-based approaches to particularly refugees that continue to dominate public debate in both the Middle East and Europe, and the dichotomy between the humanitarian categories of “host community” vs “refugees”. This symposium will also be the occasion to present the results of an ongoing collective research project carried out by IFPO in the frame of the H2020 project ITHACA: Interconnecting Histories and Archives for Migrant Agency.
 See https://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/content/resources/unrwa_in_figures_2021_eng.pdf
 Primarily Syrians, but also Iraqis, Yemenis, Sudanese, Somalis. See https://reporting.unhcr.org/jordan?year=2022#toc-populations
 This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101004539. The content does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Commission. The European Commission is also not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.
Crédits image : Street art de Joanna A. Arida à Amman, photographie de Zinab Abbar.