Transregional Authoritarian Practices in Jordan and beyond

Benjamin Schütze (Bergstraesser Institute, Freiburg)


Conventional understandings of authoritarian power situate the latter in the context of nation states. Ensuing analyses fail to acknowledge the transregionally connected nature of authoritarian practices and associated capital accumulation, and ignore the diversity of actors from both within and beyond the state who are involved in the reinforcement of authoritarian power.

By reconceptualizing the context in which to analyze the latter, and by suggesting alternative units of analysis, such as the ‘transregional authoritarian logistics space’, I discuss Jordanian authoritarianism through elsewhere. Instead of focusing on the Jordanian regime, I highlight the centrality of transregional entanglements and various international actors (‘democracy promotion’ and ‘developmental aid’ agencies, as well as global logistics players) in bringing about authoritarian power in Jordan and beyond.

Focusing on transregionally connected practices, I demonstrate the spatial rearticulation of authoritarian power via the creation of new boundaries, based on class and race. While authoritarian power always becomes spatialized in particular locales, the presence or absence of authoritarian actors and practices cannot be mapped into neat spatial units. The discussed processes of transregionalization pose important challenges to attempts at contesting authoritarian power, as the possible introduction of state-based democratic procedures would in a context of transregionalized authoritarian power have hardly any meaningful emancipatory potential. I situate my analysis against the backdrop of literatures on authoritarian practices, critical logistics and transregional connections.

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About the Speaker

Benjamin Schuetze is a Senior Researcher at the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI) in Freiburg. His research examines transregional authoritarian practices and the politics of intervention via a focus on US and European attempts at ‘democracy promotion’ in Jordan, US-Jordanian military collaboration and the political economy of renewable energy infrastructures and projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). His work is situated at the intersections of international relations, Middle Eastern politics, critical security studies and transregional studies. Before working with the ABI, Benjamin was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Freiburg’s Department of Political Science, which he joined in 2016 after having completed his PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. He studied Political Science and Arabic Studies in Leipzig, Beirut and London. His most recent publications have appeared in International Studies Quarterly, Security Dialogue, Cooperation & Conflict, Al-Jazeera and Jadaliyya. His book on “Promoting Democracy, Reinforcing Authoritarianism: US and European Policy in Jordan” was published with Cambridge University Press in 2019.