Methodenzentrum Sozialwissenschaften

Dynamic figurations of refugees, migrants, and longtime residents in Jordan since 1946: between peaceable and tension-ridden co-existence?


Principal investigator: Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rosenthal (Georg-August Universität Göttingen)

Founded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Duration of the project: 1.4.2017- 31.3.2020



Jordan is currently again having to cope with the arrival of a very high number of refugees. We want to find out how this new situation is affecting relationships between different groupings within the population, which includes large numbers of refugees who have entered the country since 1947/48 in different phases of the regional history. It can be assumed that figurations have repeatedly changed of groupings who have lived in Jordan for a long time and new groupings that have arrived successively. Remarkable in the case of Jordan is that so far these processes of transformation in the demographic and socio-political structures have taken place relatively peaceably or, more precisely, with a relatively low level of violence. By studying the social figurations of refugees, other immigrants and longtime residents which have continually changed since 1947/48, and the formation of various groupings and we-groups, we hope to be able to reconstruct the factors which enable or determine the formation of various tension-ridden and peaceable constellations of groupings which are socio-culturally diverse. While research in the field of peace and conflict studies tends to be concentrated on so-called crisis areas, or post-conflict settings, with Jordan we would like to direct attention to a host country in which, apart from the Jordanian Civil War of 1970/71 (also known as Black September), there have been almost no armed conflicts.

It must be remembered that the majority-minority situation in Jordan has changed considerably, not only as a result of the arrival of approximately 800,000 Palestinian refugees in 1947/48 and after (with a population of longtime residents in 1947/48 of around 375,000). The immigration of other groupings of refugees from Iraq, and currently from Syria, has also led to lasting changes in the social figurations and in everyday life. This gives rise to the following questions: in what ways have the figurations of different groupings of refugees and longtime residents changed, and how has stability or peaceful co-existence been maintained on a practical, everyday level?

These questions will be investigated in the conurbation of Amman. Between 1948 und 2015 the population in this urban space has grown to over four million, a 55-fold increase, due among other things to the influx of refugees. We will work in different contexts selected according to theoretical criteria, in families and neighborhoods and refugee camps, using a combination of methods, including participant observation, group discussions, thematically focused interviews and narrative family and biographical interviews. This approach will enable us to reconstruct handed-down narratives and personal experiences of people in diverse social groupings, and their future perspectives, and to study everyday interactions between them.