Allison Spencer Hartnett, ACOR-CAORC Predoctoral Fellow, Summer 2018

Allison Spencer Hartnett is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Oxford and an ACOR-CAORC fellow for the summer of 2018. Her research focuses on the relationship between land, political power, and state-building in the MENA region.

Allison Spencer Hartnett 2015, photo courtesy of same

Allison’s dissertation contributes a new understanding of land distribution in non-democratic contexts and challenges prevailing theories about the positive relationship between redistribution and political stability. Using qualitative and quantitative evidence, she has developed a theoretical framework to explain when and why land redistribution happens, who benefits from it, and what the long-term implications are for state-building.  Her findings show that colonial land polices established robust patterns of state-society relations that were typically mediated through landed elites. The variation in these relationships across the MENA region resulted in different types of redistributive demands. The expropriation of landed elites had negative consequences for developing state capacity and establishing inclusive ruling coalitions.

Allison’s work in Jordan focuses specifically on the Jordan Valley region, where land redistribution in the 1960s and 1980s fundamentally changed social and economic relationships to land and agriculture. Using a combination of quantitative, archival, and interview-based evidence, Allison’s research links local conditions to Jordan’s national politics and explains why land redistribution might occur in the absence of popular demands for reform.

Allison’s research has been supported by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative and the Centre for British Research in the Levant. Her research is based on archival study and fieldwork in several countries, including Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, the U.K., and the U.S. Her work has also been featured in a number of academic and policy outlets, including the Project on Middle East Political Science based at George Washington University and the Washington Post‘s Monkey Cage blog.

The geometry of redistributed plots in Ghor as-Safi in the southern Jordan Valley 2017, photo by Allison Spencer Hartnett

Allison received her M.Phil in Modern Middle Eastern studies (2013) from St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and a B.A. in Islamic studies and Middle East History from Boston University (2009).  This 2018–2019 academic year, she will be joining Yale University’s Department of Political Science as a lecturer and a Leitner Post-Doctoral Fellow in Political Economy. You can learn more about Allison at website:

2 thoughts on “Allison Spencer Hartnett, ACOR-CAORC Predoctoral Fellow, Summer 2018”

  1. Hamzah Abusheikha

    Land redistribution can cause changes in economical and social life. But in fact this changes can be good and can be bad. How can we know that this redistribution will be good or bad?

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