Derrida and Hospitality

Derrida and Hospitality: Theory and Practice

Judith Still
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Derrida and Hospitality
    Book Description:

    Judith Still sets Derrida's work in a series of contexts in a series of contexts including the socio-political history of France, especially in relation to Algeria, and his relationship to other writers, most importantly Hélène Cixous and Emmanuel Levinas – key thinkers of hospitality. Working across the full breadth of fields that Derrida's work on hospitality influenced, this book thinks through relationships between individuals and the community or state. Judith Still also follows the thread of sexual difference in Derrida's writing to shed light on his exploration of the complex and delicate, strange yet familiar, political and ethical dilemmas of how to be those impossible things: a good host and a good guest.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4450-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. 1 Introduction to the question of hospitality: ethics and politics
    (pp. 1-50)

    We all think that we know something about hospitality – it’s an everyday experience. Yet it has also been a burning topic of philosophical and political debate over the last couple of decades, and my epigraph indicates the complexity of the hinge or brisure between politics and philosophy here. Why has hospitality recently enjoyed a renaissance? This could be related to at least three factors. The first would be recent movements of population towards, and within, an expanded Europe: what is conceived as economic immigration and also, notably, the arrival of asylum seekers and refugees. The political reaction in the nation...

  6. 2 Patriarchs and their women, some inaugural intertexts of hospitality: the Odyssey, Abraham, Lot and the Levite of Ephraim
    (pp. 51-92)

    This chapter will not attempt to trace the history of the concept or the practice of hospitality, which would require at least a book, better several books, in itself. I have analysed aspects of eighteenth century hospitality, as a particular pressure point, in Enlightenment Hospitality. Here I shall give space to an analysis of some very particular key texts relating to hospitality which seem to haunt the present, or which act as nodal points crossed by the tensions that still beset us today, episodes from the Odyssey and from the Books of Genesis and Judges in the Old Testament. I...

  7. 3 Friendship and sexual difference: hospitality from brotherhood to motherhood and beyond
    (pp. 93-142)

    Critical work on hospitality in the wake of Derrida has usually focused – befitting certain political exigencies of our unequal globalised world – on the other ‘stranger’, the guest who arrives and who is unknown. Yet this other, however foreign, is welcomed according to the laws of hospitality as mon prochain (‘my neighbour’ as it is sometimes rendered in English), and the model of the one who is close to me (mon prochain) is the brother-friend. In this chapter I shall begin by focusing on friendship, most often understood as a spiritual fraternity, and the tensions even within friendship between the difference...

  8. 4 Frenchalgeria – (not) asking for a name, naming, calling by name in tales of Algerians
    (pp. 143-186)

    This chapter will raise the question of names in a range of different contexts of (in) hospitality, but in order to focus the topic (potentially enormous) I shall keep returning to Algeria and to the French (uninvited guests). I want to discuss the power of names – proper names, of course, with their special link to the individual subject or to a place, but also common nouns and even adjectives by which we designate people and places. I shall consider the designations ‘guest’, ‘host’ and ‘hospitality’ further in the next chapter. I begin here with some introductory comments about naming and...

  9. 5 The dangers of hospitality: the French State, cultural difference and gods
    (pp. 187-218)

    Traditional stories about hospitality warn of the dangers of not offering hospitality to gods. In ancient Greece, denying hospitality to gods in disguise was not recommended – likewise in the Old Testament, Sodom’s inhospitality to the angels disguised as men in the story of Lot is a crime that is severely punished. Derrida and Cixous point out that today (although not for the first time) it is the arrival of migrants ‘with their Gods’ which seems dangerous and problematic. The previous chapter focused largely on the colonial presence (the uninvited guests) in Algeria, and on those fortunate enough to be more...

  10. 6 Animals and what is human
    (pp. 219-254)

    In working on this book on hospitality, I have regularly come up against the question of the animal in Derrida, Cixous and Irigaray. This may seem on the face of it a contingent rather than necessary conjuncture. Why introduce animals into the question of hospitality (already a vast enough topic, to put it mildly)? And, from the other perspective, why would it be useful to the understanding of animality vis-à-vis humanity or animal–human relations to use the language of hospitality? Human–animal relations can be discussed very satisfactorily using the language of exploitation or opportunism or many other non-altruistic...

  11. 7 Concluding around hospitality
    (pp. 255-267)

    Should there be a conclusion to this book, on this topic? Can it be an opening up and out to the reader even if – in order to do her best to prepare, adorn (prépare, pare), provide a feast – the writer has to condition a response. The etymology of conclusion is probably well known; in both English and French the term derives from the Latin concludere, con plus claudere which means ‘to shut’. The subject of hospitality would seem to be an open one both in the sense that the living subject should be open (open hearts, doors, frontiers) and also...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 268-282)
  13. Index
    (pp. 283-296)