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Indicators à la carte: Debating Poverty Measurements in Jordan

Joint IFPO/CBRL Insight Series

Perspectives on the Modern and Contemporary Arab World presents a public lecture by Dr. des. Katharina Lenner

"Indicators à la carte: designing and debating poverty measurements in Jordan"

Poverty indicators are often considered as neutral conveyors of information about the socio-economic situation in a specific setting, whiletheir calculation and design are usually assumed to be highly technical affairs. This presentation looks at how poverty indicators in Jordan are created and negotiated. It elaborates how,on the one hand, poverty measurementshave contributed to fixing particular understandings of poverty, thereby reducing the options of what can be said and done about the matter. At the same time, it shows that theyhave constituted a terrain of negotiation and contestation, in which various policy-shapers with different understandings of poverty and socio-political agendas have been involved. It investigates the significance of employing quantitative vs. qualitative poverty indicators, and elaborates how the choice of specific measures – e.g. the national poverty line, or subnational poverty counts –is an outcome of various political and practical considerations.

Katharina Lenner (Dr. des.,FU Berlin) is a political scientist currently pursuing a post-doctoral fellowship at Jordan University. Previously she worked as a research associate and lecturer at FreieUniversität Berlin. Her research and teaching interests include interpretive/ethnographic policy analysis, development policy, the governance of migration and refugees, social policy and politics in the Global South, particularly in Jordan and the Arab Mashreq; as well as postcolonial and anthropological perspectives on statehood, nationalism and collective identity. Her current research focuses on the politics of development and international intervention in the Arab World, and investigates how globalised blueprints for intervention take on a shape of their own as they become meaningful in specific contexts. In this vein, her Ph.D. thesis analyses the politics of poverty alleviation and local development in Jordan.