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Higher education as formation of the self and citizenship: an ethnography of the University Students from Amman, Jordan
Cantini, Daniele
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Departament d'Antropologia Social i Cultural
My interest in higher education and citizenship in the Middle East at large and in Jordan in particular is fostered by some of the reflections Eickelman proposed (1992). Being a quite recent phenomenon, intimately linked with the more general topic of state formation it seemed to me more suitable to study it in a little country with a recent history (a field study left almost unexplored until now as far as Jordan is concerned, to the best of my knowledge, since Antoun 1994 focuses on the migration as a quest for higher education). The process of state formation in Jordan is quite studied. I thus intended to study the higher education policies as an attempt both to create a national citizenry and more recently as a way of controlling the more problematic part of the population (youth, which constitutes more than the double of the population. See UNDP and Ministry of Planning 2000). How do the young students enter the university system, and in which way does this system work? How is this system designed, in order to retain social control of the students (since they are usually perceived to be a factor of social and political instability, as in Iran or in Egypt)? Is there any significant difference between different faculties? And if so, why? My conclusions at this stage are that the university system is an integral part of the survival of the regime. The system works quite well, and Jordan has one of the best educational position in the region. Yet there are important distinctions to be made: the access to the better faculties is socially selective while the less valued faculties are left to the poorer and less wealthy youth. This results in a different treatment of the students and of the courses that I analysed. In the better faculties the teaching standards are quite high, and the relationship between professors and students is almost on a same-level base, while in the less privileged faculties the opposite is true. Thus we can observe a concrete politics of divide et impera intended to split the youth in two. For the more privileged there are some freedoms, both within and outside classes, designed I guess at forging them as autonomous individuals. On the opposite the less privileged are kept under tight control, even if also these students are a privileged category among youth at large.
39 - Etnologia. Etnografia. Folklore
Educació universitària -- Jordània
Ciutadania -- Jordània
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12 p.
Working Paper
EMIGRA working papers;6

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