Vol. 38 No. 4 (2023)
By Zachary Sheldon
In the late-night cafés of Amman, Jordan, Iraqi refugees have adopted a new game, called jaakaaroo, that they say is more “malicious” than familiar favorites like dominoes or backgammon. Meanwhile, they decry the cruelty, greed, and suspicion that have eroded social bonds in their home and host countries. Borrowing concepts from Arabic philosophy, I argue that the formal routines of the game act on the same faculty of estimation (al-wahm) that migrants use to read strangers’ intentions while disguising their own. When this sense of suspicion emanates from the ingenious device of the game itself, which I theorize as a form of agent intellect (al-‘aql al-faa‘il), new and troubling feelings come to be absorbed within the broader aesthetic assemblage of teahouse sociality. In these spaces, the harshness of the present becomes enfolded within nostalgic routines—a creative act of solidarity that exceeds binary tropes of hope and uncertainty.
displacement; Middle East; games; temporality; sociality; agency
Copyright (c) 2023 Zachary Sheldon
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.