Institutt for sosialantropologi
master's thesis

Navigating Queer Possibilities: An ethnographic study of the everyday lives of queer men in Amman, Jordan


Master's thesis submitted at Department of Social Anthropology, autumn 2022.

By: Alexandra Elton Bergun
Supervisor: Professor Tone Bringa

This thesis is an exploration of how young men with same-sex desires experience and navigate everyday life in the capital of Jordan, Amman. The study draws on ethnographic data collected through participant observation from a six-month field study in Amman. Since instating the 1951 Criminal Code, sexual relations between persons of the same sex have not been criminalized in Jordan. However, people with non-heteronormative sexualities are still highly marginalized in Jordanian society today. I am interested in how queer men in Amman may be affected by a state and dominant public discourse that condemns the existence of nonheteronormative sexualities as reprehensible. My interlocutors either have difficult or nonexistent relationships with their parents as a result of making their non-heteronormative sexuality known to them. Drawing on Suad Joseph’s theories about family and family relations in Arab-majority societies, I seek to understand how my interlocutors experience an insecure, ambiguous social, cultural, and political environment, when the protection kinship loyalties entail has been forfeited. As I explore how the queer men I met create safe spaces and negotiate meaningful connections among themselves, I argue that the experience of marginalized queer citizens in Amman may also bring forth new possibilities. Little anthropological research has been written with a focus on non-heteronormative sexualities in Jordan. I hope that by presenting the ethnography in this thesis, I may provide the young men I met with a voice that can contribute to an enhanced understanding of how queer young men experience everyday life in Amman.