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Conference Brief

A city of four million inhabitants today, Amman’s expansion has become disproportionate to its urban history. Developing from a small rural settlement at the end of the 19th century, the capital city evolved into a regional crossroad at the end of the 20th century, and has today become a symbol for the consolidation of Hashemite rule. Often referred to as the city of refuge, Amman has experienced an impressive urban growth over the past fifty years driven by forced displacements, changing geopolitical conditions, and large influxes of capital. The city has been perpetually co-produced by its diverse populations, yet both urban policies and market forces continue to extend and reinforce the divisions of urban geographies based on gender, class, and origin.


Despite the growing power of nationalist politics and of neoliberal agendas in shaping the urban trajectory of the city, the simultaneous rise of Amman’s residents associations, youth initiatives and codified everyday practices of resistance have allowed inhabitants to reshape their physical and conceptual interactions within the city, and to practice alternative imaginaries for shared livelihoods. At this important historical juncture, and fifty years since the publishing of Henri Lefebvre’s seminal text in 1968, this conference seeks to reposition the notion of the right to the city in relation to the particularities of Amman within the context of a global movement toward localized urban projects of direct democracy.


Organizing Committee: Myriam Ababsa (Ifpo Amman), Nora Akawi (Columbia University GSAPP / Studio-X Amman / Columbia Global Centers | Amman), Jawad Dukhgan (Studio-X Amman / Columbia Global Centers | Amman), Nadine Fattaleh (Studio-X Amman / Columbia Global Centers | Amman), Falestin Naïli (Ifpo Amman), Norig Neveu (CNRS / IREMAM)

Conference Organizers

Ifpo, the Institut français du Proche-Orient (French Institute for the Near East), is at the service of knowledge production on the societies of the Near-East with a focus on Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Iraq. It covers all disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities, and all the periods from Prehistory to today.

Ifpo's three scientific departments (Contemporary Studies; Medieval, Arab and Modern Studies; Archaeology and History of the Antiquity) allow the institute to develop a vast array of partnerships with a view to producing knowledge as a common and shared endeavour between the researchers at the Institute, scholars in the societies that host Ifpo, and the rest of the scientific community.

Columbia Global Centers | Amman was established in March 2009 as one of the first in the network of Columbia Global Centers. The global centers promote and facilitate the collaborative and impactful engagement of the University’s faculty, students, and alumni with the world to enhance understanding, address global challenges, and advance knowledge and its exchange. The centers are located in Amman, Beijing, Istanbul, Mumbai, Nairobi, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Tunis. The Amman Center serves as a hub for programs and educational initiatives throughout the Middle East; providing Columbia faculty and students with opportunities to expand their research and scholarship, but also as a conduit for knowledge exchange and skill development with local and regional academics, experts and practitioners.

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Studio-X Amman is a regional platform for experimental design and research in architecture run by Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) and Columbia Global Centers | Amman. Through workshops, lectures, screenings, and field visits, Studio-X Amman brings together Columbia GSAPP students and faculty with practitioners, researchers, and students from the Arab World to critically reflect on the role of architecture education and practice in times of mass displacement, dispossession, and destruction, and in the construction of alternative collective imaginaries for our cities.

Photos by Antonio Ottomanelli