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Postcolonial Approaches to Democracy and its Impact on Gender in Jordan Open Access Deposited

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This paper explores how women experience Western democracy in Jordan. Citing dramatic religious, cultural, and social differences to the West, some academic discourses assume that the Middle East is incompatible with democracy. This paper seeks to contribute to a body of scholarship exposing this understanding of Middle Eastern governance as reductive by 1) establishing a theoretical framework that distinguishes the concept of Western democracy from liberalism and 2) analyzing this framework in relation to the lived experiences of women in Jordan. Primary research was principally conducted through interviews and surveys with women in Jordan. The majority of responses indicated that the participants desired greater levels of democracy catered towards the Middle Eastern region and Jordanian culture. Results also suggest that the majority of participants did not desire Western imposed democracy, as it aligns with neither the government nor the culture. While the survey responses gave quantitative expression to this sentiment, interviews revealed a richer and more nuanced understanding of its significance. This paper contributes to scholarship on postcolonial democracy and gender by exploring the frequently ignored experience of Middle Eastern women in “alternative” democracies.

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