Research on Palestine is a seminar series hosted by the Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut. It is geared towards up-and-coming researchers, but the series will discuss any new research in Palestinian Studies. It gives researchers the opportunity to reflect on the story behind their projects as well as their research findings. The formation of Amman as the capital of the “modern state” of Jordan was a gradual process beginning in the 1950s and lasting through the 1980s, a period punctuated with over fifty planning attempts within the capital and across the country as a whole. However, it was not until the 1980’s that signifiers of the modern state started to become evident in the cityscape: the master plan, the plaza, the monument. This symptom of belated modernity cannot be read outside the successive separations from Palestine that Amman was experiencing in the same period. Those “separations” varied in their intensity but were all inscribed in the cityscape, leading to inner schisms in the city structure. In the official discourse, a new phase for Amman as a modern city—in a postmodern time—was announced during the 1980s, introducing a new kind of monumentality that emphasized those schisms.
Saba Innab’s presentation focused on the formation of Amman as the capital of the ‘modern state’ by showing how pivotal moments of Amman’s modern history were inscribed in its built environment, and by arguing that Amman’s urban development cannot be understood without taking into account the history of Jordan’s relationship with the Palestinians. She did so by discussing four landmarks as well as moments in history. Firstly, she spoke of the construction of the Hashemite Plaza in 1986 as the first political plaza which was an attempt to reclaim the center of Amman by political power. Secondly, she discussed the development of Amman’s master plan following the 1967 war. Thirdly, she discussed the building of the Martyr’s Memorial in 1977, and finally she discussed the relocation of Raghadan as well as the Abdali bus terminals as an attempt to push its daily users to the margins of the city while opening up the downtown to tourists. Innab has been working on this research for 15 years, and it was inspired by her personal experiences commuting through the city center.
Saba Innab: Architect, urban researcher, and artist practicing out of Amman and Beirut. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture Engineering from the Jordan University of Science and Technology. In 2014, she has received the visiting research fellowship initiated by Studio- X Amman (GSAPP). Through painting, mapping, sculpture, model making and design, her work explores the suspended states between temporality and permanence, and is concerned with variable notions of dwelling and building and their political, spatial and poetic implications in language and architecture.