'Everyone has a story': Jordanian churches reimagine Middle Eastern Christianity in response to refugees
Schouten, Lucy Jane
Syrian and Iraqi refugees displaced by regional conflicts have become a large presence in Jordan since 2011. The scale of the refugee phenomenon has affected both Christian-Muslim and intra-Christian dynamics in the country. This study examines the response of Jordanian Christians to refugees, as well as to these broader disruptions, based on six months of fieldwork in Amman in 2018 and 2019. I identify the traditions relevant to their response as Arab hospitality, local cosmopolitanism, Pan-Arabism, catholicity, sacred geography, and neighbourly hospitality. Using three case studies among Arab Orthodox, Latin Catholic, and Anglican Christians in Amman, I demonstrate that communities respond to refugees both directly and indirectly by reemphasizing their contributions to their relationships with Muslims and Western Christians. Overall, this study argues that Christians seek to stabilize their presence in Jordan through their response to refugees, as they creatively reimagine their relationships with both the region’s Muslims and Western Christians. This argument sheds light on the growing topic of Middle Eastern Christian agency within World Christianity, hospitality within the study of political theology and ethics, and the role of host communities within migration studies.