Josephine Chaet, ACOR-CAORC Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Summer / Fall 2019

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Josephine Chaet is a doctoral candidate in the anthropology department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and an ACOR-CAORC pre-doctoral fellow for the summer and fall of 2019. Prior to her current fellowship at ACOR, Josephine was a Fulbright Research Scholar in Jordan during the 2018-2019 academic year. Her research while at ACOR focuses on the historical and contemporary experiences of women’s organizations and on the public actions of those associations over time.

Josephine Chaet in the ACOR Library, July 2019 (photo: Barbara A. Porter)

In its broadest sense, Josephine’s dissertation explores the interactions between female organizational actors, legislative change, and the state. In 2017 the Jordanian Parliament repealed Article 308 of the nation’s penal code, which allowed male rapists to avoid severe criminal sentencing if they married their female victims; that decision was in part attributed to the collective efforts undertaken by members of parliament and women’s organizations throughout the country. Taking that recent development as a point of entry, this dissertation project examines the ways in which women’s organizations in Jordan carve out spaces from which they have the potential to inform processes of legislative change. Josephine’s ethnographic and historical approach to understanding the work of women’s organizations aims to illuminate the existence and importance of civil society organizations while decisively bringing gender into focus within scholarship on the state.

Josephine’s work in Jordan specifically attends to women’s organizations located throughout Amman, where such associations have, since the mid-twentieth century, contributed to politically-oriented discussions throughout the country. While earlier phases of Josephine’s research in Jordan utilized a mixture of participant-observation and in-depth interviews, this phase of her ongoing dissertation research project will devote time to archival work while continuing and building upon earlier aspects of this research.

Josephine received her Master’s in Anthropology from the University of Illinois – Chicago in 2018, and has conducted extensive language training and preliminary research in preparation for this phase of her dissertation research. She received her Bachelor’s (with honors) in History and Anthropology from Grinnell College in 2016.

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