Dr Hussam Hussein investigates the construction of the discourse of water scarcity in Jordan, and the political economy of the water sector.
This is a recording of a live webinar held on 22nd October 2021 for the MEC Friday Seminar Michaelmas Term 2021 series on the overall theme of The Environment and The Middle East. Dr Hussam Hussein (Lecturer in International Relations at DPIR, Oxford Martin School Fellow in Water Diplomacy, and Fulford Junior Research Fellow at Somerville College) presents the politics of water scarcity in the case of Jordan.
Dr Neil Ketchley (St Antony’s College, Oxford) chairs this webinar and Dr Michael Willis (St Antony’s College, Oxford) moderates the Q&A.
This talk investigates the construction of the discourse of water scarcity in Jordan, and the political economy of the water sector. It identifies the actors constructing the discourse and the elements comprising the discourse. The research finds that there is a single dominant discourse of water scarcity, which is composed of two narratives: water insufficiency and water mismanagement. The water insufficiency narrative is constructed to emphasise factors external to the responsibility of the Jordanian government as reasons for water scarcity, like nature, refugees, and neighbouring countries. It is mainly constructed by governmental aligned actors and deployed to open solutions on the supply and conservation sides and ultimately to maintain the status quo of the current water uses. The water mismanagement narrative is constructed to emphasise as reasons for water scarcity factors of mismanagement of water resources and deployed to increase economic efficiency in the water sector, challenging existing uses, allocations, and benefits.
Dr Hussam Hussein’s research focuses on the role of discourses in shaping water policies in the Middle East, on transboundary water governance, and on issues related to the political economy of water resources in arid and semi-arid regions. Hussam has also worked on issues of sustainable development and environmental governance for the Italian Embassy in Jordan, the European Parliament, the World Bank and UNICEF. He obtained his PhD from the University of East Anglia with a thesis on hydropolitics and discourses of water scarcity in the case of Jordan.
Dr Neil Ketchley is Associate Professor in Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) and the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA). His research focuses on the dynamics of protest and activism in the Arabic-speaking Middle East and North Africa. His most recent book, Egypt in a Time of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2017), won the Charles Tilly Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association. His work has appeared in journals such as the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, and Mobilization. Neil's current research interests include episodes of historic mass protest in the MENA, the rise of political Islam in Egypt, and the changing profiles of regional political elites.
Dr Michael J. Willis is Director of the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford and King Mohammed VI Fellow in Moroccan and Mediterranean Studies. His research interests focus on the politics, modern history and international relations of the central Maghreb states (Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco). He is the author of Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring (Hurst and Oxford University Press, 2012) and The Islamist Challenge in Algeria: A Political History (Ithaca and New York University Press, 1997) and co-editor of Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2015).
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Accessibility features of this video playlist are available through the University of Oxford Middle East Centre podcast series: http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/middle-east-centre