Wed, Apr 11, 2018    7pm

Order and Disorder: Urban Governance and the Making of Amman

By Luna Khirfan

Lecture Abstract

Since the turn of the century, several factors brought to the forefront the discourse on Amman’s urban governance including, among many others, the plethora of reforms and institutional restructuring at the Greater Amman Municipality, the Amman Master Plan, the conception of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), or the construction of numerous mega urban development projects in Amman’s urban landscape. Collectively with the onset of the Arab Spring Uprisings that brought about the credence of citizen action as a force for change, these planning initiatives instigated a change in the public’s attitudes toward issues of urban governance and urban development.

In this lecture, Luna Khirfan will review Amman’s fluxional state since the 1920s and the insurmountable planning challenges it presented and highlight how, notwithstanding these challenges, 20th century formal planning had actually produced tangible outcomes, especially with regards to bridging Amman’s East-West disparities. In contrast, Dr. Khirfan reveals through specific case studies how recent shifts in the approach to formal planning that favour market forces have instigated a regression that are effectively leading to unplanning Amman. Simultaneously, Dr. Khirfan delineates civil society’s influential rise in Amman’s urban governance networks which, especially after the Arab Spring Uprisings, has transformed from coerced apathy into forms of non-traditional agency including: revolt, subversion, and more important, innovative negotiation.

About Luna Khirfan

Luna Khirfan is Associate Professor at the School of Planning, the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. Her research underscores community engagement in urban planning and design, especially in Middle Eastern cities. Her recent book “Order and Disorder: Urban Governance and the Making of Middle Eastern Cities” (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017) is an edited volume that highlights the dynamics between civil society, the state, and the market in shaping the urban landscapes of Amman and Cairo. Her first book “World Heritage, Urban Design and Tourism: Three Cities in the Middle East” (Routledge, 2014) explores the relationship between public engagement, place making, and place experience in the urban rehabilitation of historic cities in the Middle East, namely Aleppo, Acre, and al-Salt. Dr. Khirfan has also researched and published on the cross-national transfer of planning knowledge from Toronto to Amman and from Vancouver to Abu Dhabi. Her more recent research projects and publications underscore the involvement of local communities in adapting built form for climate change by deploying the charrette as a participatory design tactic, a data collection method, and a knowledge exchange mechanism. Dr. Khirfan’s current research project explores the potential of de-culverting/daylighting urban streams for place-making and for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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