Activism in Jordan

Pénélope Larzilliére
Translated by Cynthia Schoch


The realities of political activism in a crucial, but often forgotten, Arab nation. 

In Jordan, between censorship, repression and election rigging, political activism is limited – despite the democratic opening glimpsed in 1989. In this important new book, Pénélope Larzillière charts the path of longstanding activists in Jordan and shows how opposition movements there have shifted from the underground to a heavily controlled public sphere. Activists discuss their motivation and commitment and the consequences their activism has had throughout their lives. Not only do these accounts highlight the general conditions for political activism in a repressive regime, they also unpack the meaning individuals attach to their political journey and chosen ideology, whether communist, nationalist, Islamist or otherwise.

Author Bio

Pénélope Larzillière is senior research fellow at the Institute for Research on Development (IRD-CEPED, Paris), and associate fellow at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (CADIS-EHESS). Her research focuses on political commitment, activism and ideologies, specializing in the Middle East. Her previous books include To Be Young in Palestine (Balland, 2004). She has also co-edited the journal issues 'Révolutions, contestations, indignations' (Socio, 2013) and 'Faut-il désoccidentaliser l’humanitaire?' (Humanitaire, 2010).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Jordanian Regime
  • 2. Becoming an Activist
  • 3. The Student Experience
  • 4. Activism, a Way of Life
  • 5. Repression and Dissidence
  • 6. Professional Activism as an Alternative
  • 7. New Forms of Mobilization
  • 8. Disillusioned Islamists
  • Conclusion
  • Methodological Appendix


‘An essential book for understanding Jordan’s key role as a stabilizing force in a chaotic Middle East.’
Denis Bauchard, former French ambassador to Jordan

‘Offers a most useful contribution to both the study of Jordanian politics and the analysis of the ongoing upheaval.’
Gilbert Achcar, author of The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising

‘Larzillière’s insightful book presents refreshing perspectives on the mobilization and demobilization of Islamist and left-wing movements in Jordan and the Arab world.’
Hamit Bozarslan, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS)

'A fascinating read… a valuable contribution to the literature on what is a vast topic, and has simplified it in such a way that not only covers important aspects but also does them justice in a very satisfying way.'
Middle East Monitor

'[T]his very readable work is an important contribution to the literature on political activism and contentious politics in non-democratic settings.'


Publication Date: 15 May 2016
248 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783605743
Hardback: 9781783605750
eBook ePub: 9781783605774
eBook PDF: 9781783605767
eBook Kindle: 9781783605781

Why is peer review so important?

Learn more about the various types of peer review, why it’s so important, what the social and political considerations of peer review are and how we use it at Zed Books.