Get access

Hashemite Antiquity and Modernity: Iconography in Neoliberal Jordan


  • Elena Corbett

    1. Penn State University Erie, The Behrend College
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Elena D. Corbett is Assistant Professor of History at Penn State University Erie, The Behrend College, in Erie, Pennsylvania. She specialises in the history of the modern Middle East. Prior to pursuing her interest in archaeology and identity construction, she participated in excavations in Jordan and Syria and earned an M.A. in Islamic Archaeology.


Owing to a range of economic policies and internal and external political relations, King Abdullah II of Jordan has a charisma problem. The ongoing political upheaval in the country began with his dissolution of Parliament in late 2009, in the absence of which he and his ministers promulgated a series of Temporary Laws to push policies that Parliament would not abide. Since then, there has been an election, an array of sackings and reshufflings of various officials, and promises of reform, all in an attempt to mitigate this personal charisma deficit and control the growing and increasingly vehement mobilisation against unpopular policies. Since the king assumed the throne in 1999, visual cues, including giant flags, slogans, ad campaigns, and images of the monarch have been deployed to the same end. This article discusses a different kind of visual cue, Amman's public park known as the King Hussein Gardens, and specifically its component known as the Historical Passageway. The Passageway is a nearly half-kilometre long monument adding – for the first time – a comprehensive view of Jordan's archaeological past to its modern history. In doing so, novel nuances are meant to become part of a complex national narrative that the Hashemite monarchs have developed and tweaked since the days of the Mandate.