In This Review

Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan
Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan
By Joseph A. Massad
Columbia University Press, 2001, 396 pp

Jordan was created and shaped by colonial fiat, and a majority of its population -- the Palestinians -- now has roots beyond its borders. In tracing how Jordan has sought to build a nation-state on such a legacy, Massad offers not the usual political history but a study of legal changes and the use of the military for nation-building. In the process, he discusses diverse subjects from the effort to settle the Bedouin (and the simultaneous invention of a largely Bedouin Jordanian tradition) to tentative moves toward a more equal status for women. A penetrating study of Jordan's long-time military commander, Glubb Pasha, is expanded to discuss military-state relations after Glubb's dismissal in 1956. The author even touches on the role of sports, language, and cuisine in creating national identity. His conclusion sees not a settled Jordanian nationhood but an ongoing confrontation between "inclusivist" tendencies, which would embrace Jordanians of Palestinian origins, and "exclusivist" tendencies, which would not.