Al-Tweissi: Jordanian cultural identity is rich and deep, and a Jordanian national narrative is a form of soft power for state and society

16 Aug 2020


Jordan Media Institute - Amman


Minister of Culture Professor Basim Tweissi said in recent remarks that the maintenance and renewal of national identity depends on culture, the arts, and a national narrative that documents events through a Jordanian lens. He furthermore emphasized the richness and depth of Jordanian cultural identity and the functioning of the Jordanian national narrative as a form of soft power shared by the state and society.


In a discussion session organized by the Jordan Media Institute (JMI) in collaboration with the Agence Francaise de Cooperation Medias, al-Tweissi met via video call with JMI guests and students at the Institute’s headquarters. He spoke about the priorities of national identity and the influence of culture on political participation and the media, addressing the different realms in which Jordanian identity has developed and flourished, throughout history, land, and geography, in addition to its influence on the values of the state and its contemporary political system. 


Al-Tweissi suggested that entering youth spaces and understanding the language of new generations is a priority for cultivating national identity, which in turn underlines the necessity of openness toward digital media insofar as they realize greater communication across generations and close the gap between past and present. Doing so will also enhance cultural resilience, which requires constantly advocating for a better understanding of and tolerance for others.


In response to questions from JMI students, al-Tweissi said that there are shortcomings in the Jordanian national narrative which is embedded in a variety of works of art, drama, and theater. To address such points of weakness in literary and cultural production, the Ministry of Culture is diligently working in cooperation with both governmental and non-governmental partners to release, within the next month, a national strategic vision document for culture, grasping Jordan’s centennial as an occasion to document Jordan’s cultural trajectory and strengthen national identity. Al-Tweissi declared that Jordan’s cultural reputation and cultural industry are in need of the kind of systematic, institutional planning and support that the state is obliged to provide to society. 


Al-Tweissi explained that Jordanian cultural identity encompasses a number of dimensions rooted in both local society and its governing state, first among which are the civilizations that have helped form this identity historically throughout the ages, accompanied by the land itself and the principles of the political system. He pointed out that Jordan contains the oldest evidence of the transition from primitivity to urban settlement and agricultural production. It witnessed the most important linguistic and cultural event in the region when, by developing the Aramaic script, the Nabateans of Petra transformed Arabic from a spoken to written language and thereby entered the era of recorded history. 


Al-Tweissi added that Jordan’s geography was a blessing and a curse at the same time for the civilizations that emerged within it, because of the perpetual competition over this territory. He also emphasized that Jordan was and is not in fact resource-deprived, as is often suggested, but rather constitutes a unique case of persistently turning scarcity into abundance, something which has deeply impacted the formation of local culture.  


In the same context, al-Tweissi noted that there is a political aspect to Jordan’s cultural identity which has developed by virtue of history and geography, as it inherited the principles and values of the Great Arab Revolt - a pivotal event in the history of the region. The latter produced a Jordanian political tradition based on pluralism, moderation, and clarity, which has spared it the challenges of a region littered with conflict hotspots and decades-long states of emergency.