Project background

I grew up in Amman, the capital of Jordan. The apartment I grew up in on the hillside of Jabal Amman overlooked an amazing view of the old city. In particular, the apartment had a direct view of the point where Amman’s Seil disappeared into underground culvert. As a child, I was simply fascinated. We moved from that area in the late 1980s, and I observed over the years when I moved to North America (first to the U.S.A. to study urban planning and then to Canada) and visited Amman the changes that took place on that part of the city. The photos taken in 1985 and in 2011 are revealing.

After my visit to Jordan in 2011, and having read about the Cheonggyecheon in Seoul, I decided to explore this idea by conducting a pilot project on the subject. In collaboration with two of my then undergraduate students, Jacqueline Lee and Catherine Yoon, we presented a paper of our tentative findings at the Canadian Association of Geographers’ conference in 2012 and received positive feedback and encouragement to pursue this idea further. It took further research over the following two years to conduct a focused review of the literature, to design the research methods, and to establish the theoretical and empirical connections to climate change –steps that were crucial for refining the research proposal. Eventually, in Spring 2016, I received the necessary funding to commence this project from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Photo of the apartment I grew up in at the edge of Jabal Amman, one of several hilltops that distinguish the urban landscape of old Amman, the capital of Jordan (photo: Luna Khirfan, January 2011).

Photo of Amman, taken from the apartment I grew up in, that shows Amman’s Seil, which appears as a dried bed in this photo that is partially culverted (enters under the street at the left side of the photo) (photo: Luna Khirfan, July 1985).

A composite photo of Amman from the apartment I grew up in shows Amman’s Seil after it was completely culverted (photo: Luna Khirfan, January 2011).