Anthropologist Linda L. Layne (b. 1955) had a career spanning only some three years in Jordan, but her rich documentation of research in the early 1980s more than compensates for that brevity. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California, she went on to earn a PhD from Princeton University in cultural anthropology and Near Eastern studies with her 1986 dissertation, The Production and Reproduction of Tribal Identity in Jordan.

The fieldwork for her dissertation is richly documented in the collection that ACOR is honored to have received: hundreds of photographic prints, slides, and negatives of research in the Jordan Valley. Her focus was on settled Bedouin, and she documented agriculture and other tasks of daily life among the people of the A’abadi tribe, along with other topics, such as education and elections in 1984.

We present here a sample of the activities that Lane photographed. While the metadata provided was often scant, we did our best to ascertain what appears in these images.

Sewing a traditional dress.
Cleaning wool.
Harvesting tomatoes.
Cleaning meat from a bone.
Packing green beans, presumably for the market.
Butchery.
Rock-breaking.
Carrying water.

In addition to photographing daily tasks, Layne wonderfully documented other aspects of life around the village (as well as the natural and built environments), as shown in the following photos.

Family preparing dinner.
Men lounging.
Mud-brick house.
Tent in agricultural field.
Stone house.
View of ruined buildings in the Jordan Valley
Mud-brick house in Adwan.
Woman smoking a traditional pipe.

Layne and Gary Rollefson also hosted a conference in 1984 titled “Anthropology in Jordan: State of the Art.” The program schedule is available as part of the collection and can be downloaded. The conference featured lectures as well as an exhibition of Layne’s photography. Queen Noor also visited.

Cover of the Anthropology in Jordan: State of the Art conference program.

Queen Noor opening the Anthropology in Jordan: State of the Art conference, 25 February 1984.
Conference session.
Portion of Linda Layne’s photo exhibition.
Queen Noor and Linda Layne viewing the exhibition of Layne’s photos.

After earning her doctorate, Layne’s academic focus shifted toward reproduction, motherhood, and selfishness. She was a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and finished her career as visiting professor in the Reproductive Sociology Research Group at the University of Cambridge. While her career did not involve Jordan much after her dissertation research, we are honored she chose the American Center of Research as home for her personal collection documenting aspects of Jordanian life that have been underrepresented in the ACOR Archives.

Linda Layne, early 1980s.