Kyle Benedict Craig
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNorthwestern U.
Grant numberGr. 9859
Approve DateMay 1, 2019
Project TitleCraig, Kyle (Northwestern U.) "“This City is So Empty”: Street Art, Youth, and Urban Futures in Amman, Jordan"
KYLE B. CRAIG, then a graduate student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, was awarded funding in May 2019 to aid research on “‘This City Needs Color’: The Political Temporalities of Graffiti and Street Art in Amman, Jordan,” supervised by Dr. Jessica Winegar. This dissertation examines the intersections of youth temporalities, the affective resonances of urban material, and the politics of public aesthetics via graffiti and street art in Amman, Jordan. Long-standing narratives describe Amman as a site of absence and dislocation—a city that lacks social cohesion or a unified aesthetic, has poor infrastructure, or offers little economic opportunity. Based on both on-site and remote fieldwork, this research attends to the multitude of ways Amman residents respond to and reframe these narratives and experiences by deploying public art across the city. Artists channel their frustrations with Amman as an “empty” and “futureless” space into colorful public art projects that for them represent small steps in the constitution of the ideal future city. This research also highlights how artists’ imaginations of a future Amman both complement and diverge from the agendas of municipal authorities and NGOs who support many of these arts initiatives. One core impetus for this project is to underscore the need to move beyond the often restricting and romanticized framework of “resistance art” when examining the nexus between youth politics and aesthetics, particularly in the MENA region.