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Book: Levantine Entanglements

Chapter: 7. Place-Making in the Jordanian Madaba Plains: The Contested Space of Tall Ḥesbān and Its Village Surroundings

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.38445


The chapter is a cultural anthropological exploration of the social memories and perceptions of the Tall Hisban summit among the present-day residents of the village of Hisban. By focusing on place-making processes aimed at the highest topographical point of the village, Jacobsen is able to map out how different dynamics contribute to the cultural production of various perceptions of this particular place: political, biographical, but also legendary and even historical dimensions. In the perceptions of local residents interviewed in this study, the village of Ḥisbān has for thousands of years been at the center of trends and forces of a scale far bigger than the village; forces and trends which one may label global forces. Still, the local realities of their lives and their village here and now loom larger than the attention toward past and present entanglement with, for example, other states and regimes, international NGOs, and even archaeologists. At best, aspects of their past and present entanglement are acknowledged as they become relevant for conceiving and speaking about present-day conditions of daily life. Place-making in Ḥesbān is thus a continuous and very local process imbuing the landscape of the tall, the village, and its surroundings with meaning, setting sacred places, artifacts, and events apart from the more mundane reality. At the same time, such local meaning-making and place-making processes employ and adapt motifs and sentiments that have been generated in trans-local settings.

Chapter Contributors

  • Frode Jacobsen ( - ffjacobsen) 'Bergen University College'