Knowles, Warwick

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Knowles, Warwick


Education: Received B.A., M.A., and Ph.D.


Office—Institute for Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, Al-Qasimi Bldg., Elvet Hill Rd., Durham DH1 3TU, England.


University of Durham, Institute for Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, Durham, England, lecturer in political economy, 2002—. Formerly worked for more than twenty years for the Bank of Scotland; taught part-time at Newcastle University for four years.


(Editor) Professional Associations and the Challenges of Democratic Transformation in Jordan: Proceedings of Workshops, translated by Sadeq Ibraheem Odeh and George A. Musleh, Al-Urdun Al-Jadid Research Center (Amman, Jordan), 2000.

Jordan since 1989: A Study in Political Economy, I.B. Tauris (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Middle East Insight.


Political economist Warwick Knowles's Jordan since 1989: A Study in Political Economy tells the story of the transformation of the Middle Eastern kingdom's economy from one based primarily on foreign aid to one based on private-sector wages. Jordan's economy, Knowles argues, is based primarily on foreign aid, tourism, raw materials for fertilizers (such as phosphates and potash), and wages that workers abroad send home. It has little or no agriculture because of its limited and uncertain rainfall, and unlike most of its Middle Eastern neighbors, it has no petroleum sources and therefore cannot rely on oil sales to support its economy. Jordan has what Knowles calls a "rentier economy," in which most of the national income is derived from supplying raw materials to foreigners. "Utilizing a rentier theory that focuses on interactions between the state, the regime," and the small group of individuals who control the country's resources, explained a Reference & Research Book News contributor, Jordan since 1989 seeks to understand Jordan's political and economic stability in the middle of the turbulent Middle East.

Interestingly, Knowles suggests, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict plays little part in understanding Jordanian stability. Before 1985, the author explains, most of the areas of the Jordanian economy were under the direct control of the state. The Jordanian government controlled access to foreign aid, put restrictions on the development of capitalism, and nationalized some major industries, including transportation and telecommunications. Citizens had to look to the government for employment and support. In 1989, however, that changed. International investment through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank began to change the Jordanian economy from one in which income was controlled primarily by the government to one in which income increasingly came from the private sector. Common thought suggests that these factors would tend to destabilize a country, but this has not been the case in Jordan, which has remained under a single government (the Hashemite dynasty) for decades. Knowles posits that this continues to be the case because, despite the emergence of the private sector, the economy overall is still controlled by the state. "The division between the private and the public sectors remained extremely blurred," Knowles writes in Jordan since 1989, "and was manifested in four areas: state involvement in productive companies; state intercession in the market; the use of access to the economy by the state for political purposes; and the institutional structure of the private sector being tied to state purposes." Patrick Clawson concluded in the Middle East Quarterly that "Knowles tells a convincing and full story without much reference to these issues, suggesting that perhaps they are not so important to understanding what is often said to be Jordan's central challenge"—its insecure economy.



Knowles, Warwick, Jordan since 1989: A Study in Political Economy, I.B. Tauris (New York, NY), 2005.


Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, December 1, 2005, P. Clawson, review of Jordan since 1989: A Study in Political Economy, p. 709.

Middle Eastern Studies, July 1, 2005, Randla Alami, review of Jordan since 1989, p. 630.

Middle East Quarterly, March 22, 2006, Patrick Clawson, review of Jordan since 1989, p. 82.

Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2006, review of Jordan since 1989.


Durham University Web site, (August 14, 2008), faculty profile.

Macmillan Web site, (August 14, 2008), profile of author.

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