Exploring Migrations in Jordan: Insights from a Recent Symposium
bottom-up approach
Policy Counil

This is a summary of a two-day symposium on migrations in Jordan, by the symposium coordinators Amal Khaleefa and Valentina Napolitano. The event, held in May 2023 at the French Institute for the Near East (IFPO) in Amman, aimed to challenge prevailing political narratives on migration in Jordan and deconstruct stereotypes, while exploring the role of archives in the production of these narratives. It featured four panels and a Policy Council, bringing together researchers, humanitarian workers, and migrants. Presentations focused on the role of humanitarian actors in producing narratives on migrations, highlighting UNRWA’s history, archiving projects involving Palestinian youth, and reconstructing familiar and village histories. Participants also explored narratives and archives produced by other non-conventional and marginal actors, including Circassian accounts and the Melkite Church involved in assistance to Palestinian refugees. Lived experiences and representations were discussed with a focus on Rohingya migrants, the racialization of Black refugees, and solidarity practices among Syrians settled in Jordan during the 1980s. The symposium also addressed the production of spaces and norms, including narratives of Syrian refugees in Palestinian camps in Amman, an experience put in perspective with that of Syrians in the Biqa‘ Valley in Lebanon.

Author biography: 

Amal Khaleefa is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique–French Institute for the Near East (CNRS–IFPO) Amman, working on the Interconnecting Histories and Archives for Migrant Agency Project (ITHACA). Her research focuses on representations, language practices, and the transmission of culture in migratory contexts, specifically in Jordan, in the Syrian refugee camp of Za‘tari, in the city of Zarqa among Palestinian refugees, and in al-Pakistan neighborhood for Rohingya. She is the author of the forthcoming book Les langues au cœur de l’exil: les Syriens du camp de Zaatari, based on her award-winning thesis, to be published by Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Valentina Napolitano is a sociologist and researcher at the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), and at Laboratoire Population Environnement et Développement (LPED) in Marseille. Her research deals with forced migrations, political violence, and family transformations in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Jordan. Among her recent publications: with Falestin Naïli and Pauline Piraud-Fournet, “Introduction: Charity, Relief and Humanitarianism as a Means of Maintaining Social and Political Stability in the Middle East – A Longue Durée Analysis of Actors, Categories, and Practices,” Endowment Studies 6, no. 1–2 (2022); and “Les émotions d’ex-militaires syriens. Donner un sens et une cohérence à la désertion en contexte de guerre,” Critique internationale 9.