Academics have studied the changing cities in the Middle East by focusing on consumption and neoliberal urban development schemes.  These studies have not questioned how people move about their cities, how they pay for the new services, how they imagine themselves fitting within the cities’ many layers, or how the population has constructed their own globalized city.  Neoliberal change is not merely about the multi-million dollar investment projects or the cafés that young people seek out to escape the social strictures of their parents – the focus of much academic research in the Middle East – but also about how populations have reconfigured how they use the city.  Amman has been largely left out of this discussion because of newness of the changes and the still lingering reputation for being more provincial than urban, but it serves as a perfect case study for the changes being wrought in the urban Middle East.  This research question studies the everyday experiences of Amman’s residences so we can map the many Ammans that currently exist.  I am using residents’ movements around the city to gauge how they navigate both the newly privatized and neoliberal urban spaces while still finding connections to family neighborhoods and networks.  Amman is no longer physically and socially divided between a poor and densely inhabited East and a wealthier and more privatized West; private-sector schooling, jobs and consumer opportunities have created a highly mobile Amman.

Betty Anderson is professor at the History Department, Boston University. She is the author of Nationalist Voices in Jordan: The Street and the State (University of Texas Press, 2005), The American University of Beirut:  Arab Nationalism and Liberal Education (University of Texas Press, 2011), and A History of the Modern Middle East:  Rulers, Rogues and Rebels (Stanford University Press, Spring 2016), as well as a co-author with Carol Berkin of the History Handbook (Houghton-Mifflin 2003 and Cengage 2011). Dr. Anderson has published articles in Civil Wars, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Critique, and Jordanies, as well as chapters for a number of edited volumes. She has written about the themes covered by Islamic and history textbooks used in Jordan, the politicizing role of education in the twentieth-century Middle East history, and the evolution of the American liberal education system at the American University of Beirut (AUB).  Her latest project examines the economic, educational, political and social changes that have come to Beirut, Amman, and Ramallah over the last 25 years.