Stanford University doctoral candidate Eda Pepi, supervised by Dr. Sylvia Yanagisako, will undertake research on the reproduction of statelessness through nationality laws in Jordan that prohibit Jordanian women married to noncitizen Palestinian men from passing their Jordanian citizenship to their children or spouses, thereby rendering these children stateless. Pepi will conduct twelve months of field research in the city of Amman, Jordan, focusing on the effects of such laws on mixed families and on attempts by the Jordanian state to regulate family life for Palestinians and Jordanians alike.

Through a research design involving social science methods such as participant observation, semi-structured interviews, inter-generational family discussions, life histories, and archival research, as well as through dispute processing and content analysis, Pepi will gather data about the practices of two kinds of mixed families: "stateless families" (Jordanian women married to non-citizen Palestinian men -- couples whose children are stateless) and "citizen families" (Jordanian men married to Palestinian women -- couples whose children are citizens). This research will shed light on the effects of state regulation on family life and on the ways that families cope with the differential effects of state regulations.

This project will make a contribution to the anthropology of statelessness, the extant scholarship of which is limited to a few policy studies that do not adequately treat questions of kinship and gender as integral to inquiries into citizenship, sovereignty, and statelessness. The project frames family life as an important site of sovereignty in action where the state is constituted. This research is also important because it will inform policymakers about the everyday lives of stateless individuals, of whom there are over 15 million in the world. Funding for this research also supports the training of a social scientist.

Project Report

Stanford University doctoral candidate Eda Pepi, supervised by Dr. Sylvia J. Yanagisako, undertook ethnographic research on the reproduction of statelessness and national identity through marriage in Jordan. Gender-biased nationality laws continue to render children of Jordanian women married to non-citizen Palestinian men stateless -- purportedly to preserve their "right of return" to a Palestinian state. Yet the children of Jordanian men married to Palestinian women are Jordanian citizens. This research examined both how statelessness and national identity emerged, and were contested, through ethnic exogamy and how corresponding state regulations were experienced, and sometimes, circumvented through marriage within social classes. The project was carried out in Amman, Jordan. Since the concurrent establishment of the state of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Palestinian "problem" has located regional and national struggles for Jordanian territorial sovereignty and national identity within the family. In a post-Oslo Jordan, it is effected through state regulation of marriages between Jordanians and Palestinians. Research focused on mixed-families that have articulated claims to citizenship through the Jordanian mothers. Participant observation, semi-structured interviews, inter-generational family discussions, life histories, and archival research produced data about how these families challenged regional and local conceptions of national identity (Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli) by complicating rhetorics about the indigeneity of East Bank Jordanians and Israeli arguments about "alternate homeland," as well as West Bank narratives about Palestinian nationalism. But the project throws into sharp relief how these rhetorics and narratives are complicated through everyday practices and beliefs that principally call into question gendered and class-specific conceptions of the "Jordanian family" whereby nationality flows from the father. This research is important because it contributes to social science theory of the relationship between marriage and the state. Of the 15 million stateless people in the world, the vast majority become stateless not by changing locality but through marriage. The policy implications of this scholarship attend to the sovereignty concerns that states cite for why they regulate whom women marry. This research also supported the education of a social scientist.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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Jeffrey Mantz
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Stanford University
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