The Conditions of Hospitality: Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics on the Threshold of the Possible

The Conditions of Hospitality: Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics on the Threshold of the Possible

John D. Caputo series editor
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    The Conditions of Hospitality: Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics on the Threshold of the Possible
    Book Description:

    Hospitality is a multi-faceted concept that has been received by, and worked into, various academic realms and disciplines, such as philosophy, politics, anthropology, aesthetics, ethics, and translation studies. The essays collected in this volume, by a wide range of international contributors, examine how, in the wake of the work of Levinas and the late Derrida, this concept has entered into and transformed the thinking of these disciplines.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5149-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction: “Taking Place”— Conditional/Unconditional Hospitality
    (pp. 1-10)

    The essays assembled in this volume represent the collected contributions to a conference held in Stavanger, Norway, in September 2008, with the title “The Conditions of Hospitality.” It was designed to commemorate and contemplate the lasting influence and heritage of the works of Emmanuel Levinas and the late Jacques Derrida, which have allowed us to think about hospitality in new ways.¹ The conference papers have been complemented by selected essays from renowned scholars that attest, in their disciplinary and theoretical variety, to the multifaceted way in which this concept has been received, and worked into, various scientific realms and disciplines,...

  4. The Ethics of Hospitality
    • Hospitality—Under Compassion and Violence
      (pp. 13-23)

      Hospitality has become the gateway to hell. I am aware that this might sound hyperbolic—I do, however, mean it seriously. One could picture Cerberus, in the antique representations of hell, guarding the entry to the netherworld, or Horus, in Egyptian mythology, weighing the good and bad actions as they are presented to him by those newly arrived, as figures of radical hospitality, since they are the ones that separate the living from the dead. In the face of today’s political rules, hospitality is not an invitation for a better life—at most, it offers a shelter—but a fully...

    • Transcending Transcendence, or: Transcendifferances: Limping toward a Radical Concept of Hospitality
      (pp. 24-41)

      Transcendence has recently come under attack. It has come under suspicion in the entire debate about our globalized world, in theoretical discussions about cosmopolitanism, and in political manifestos that debate how to deal with the global village we have perceived our planet to be. And in a village, as is well known, everybody is each other’s neighbor.

      In both the theoretical discussions and the political debates, what gives rise to said suspicions is that transcendence somehow seems to team up with universalism, whose imperial implications and effects have been scrutinized to an extent that makes it unnecessary to lay them...

    • Toward a Mutual Hospitality
      (pp. 42-54)

      In some cultures, hospitality does not raise any problem. In these cultures, which are generally feminine ones, the world is open, as is life itself. All, men and women, are children of a mother, in particular of the mother as nature. Thus peace governs, and also hospitality.

      But cultures of masculine origin have imposed other codes and perspectives, another logic with respect to a natural economy, a living economy. Human children have become separated by artificial boundaries that all, men and women, did not share, did not even understand. Women, the guardians of the ancient laws of hospitality, have been...

  5. The Politics of Hospitality
    • To Open: Hospitality and Alienation
      (pp. 57-80)

      Hospitality has emerged as a key concept in our contemporary era of global migration. TheOxford English Dictionarydefines hospitality as “the act or practice of being hospitable; the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers, with liberality and goodwill.” The host (from the Latin,hospes), the individual agent who practices or gives hospitality, is “a man who lodges and entertains another in his house.”¹ Whether it is an ethical, political, or juridical concept, a matter of philanthropy or a matter of right, the central gesture of hospitality is that of opening, more precisely, to open oneself up to...

    • Frictions of Hospitality and the Promise of Cosmopolitanism
      (pp. 81-93)

      In an original analysis of food consumption and exchange in the everyday life of a small hamlet on the southern seaboard of Norway, Runar Døving (2001; 2003) develops some subtle insights into the dynamics of hospitality. Describing the conventions of social visits in the community, he asks what the reactions would be if a guest insisted on not being served anything but a glass of water. Convention dictates that coffee be served on these visits, usually accompanied by a slice of cake or some biscuits.

      In Norway, “a glass of water” usually refers to tap water, which is, in effect,...

    • Proximity and Paradox: Law and Politics in the New Europe
      (pp. 94-110)

      InAnother Cosmopolitanism, Seyla Benhabib promotes the idea that recent developments in international institutionalism evidence the growth of what she calls cosmopolitan norms.¹ She turns to an emergency to set the stage. Genocide serves as her synecdoche for several new legislative and normative trends in human rights, especially in Europe. Noting the lack of appropriate institutions with which to try Adolf Eichmann in 1961, Benhabib presses upon her readers the need to support international tribunals now. But the lens and mood set by Eichmann and genocide set us up to relate in a certain way—in a mode of dependence...

    • Conditions for Hospitality or Defence of Identity? Writers in Need of Refuge—A Case of Denmark’s “Muslim Relations”
      (pp. 111-124)

      As one of the last decisions before it disassembled for the summer break in 2008, the Danish Parliament,Folketinget, passed two bills to facilitate the participation of Danish municipalities in the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN).¹ On the face of it, it might be good news that yet another country opens its borders to writers targeted with threats and persecution. As a condition for refuge in Denmark, however, any writer granted “refuge” under the umbrella of ICORN now has to sign a rather peculiar document—a “Declaration on recognition of the fundamental values of the Danish society” (cf. Appendix)....

  6. The Aesthetics of Hospitality
    • Conviviality and Pilgrimage: Hospitality as Interruptive Practice
      (pp. 127-144)

      When I first started thinking about hospitality almost ten years ago, I was wondering why it is even possible to discuss “immigration” as a facet of “hospitality.” More specifically, I was looking for a productive way to critique the unformulated connection between immigration and hospitality. Like most people I know, I find it plausible to imagine the immigrant as a guest and the national as the host, and to posit that certain nations are “host countries.” That certain lands, certain continents are seen as “hosts” and certain migrants as “guests” is such an obvious metaphorical move that I tend to...

    • Hospitality and the Zombification of the Other
      (pp. 145-167)

      While hospitality was represented as a sacred duty in Homer’sOdyssey, the status of the stranger was also framed by uncertainty. A Greek could never know in advance whether the stranger was an enemy or a god in disguise. The conventions of Greek hospitality were therefore laced with a mixture of self-interest and the desire to please the gods. To share food and offer gifts to a stranger was considered the highest form of civilization. By contrast, a monster like Cyclops preferred to devour his guests. Hospitality was a regulated mode of reception. The stranger was brought into the house...

    • The Art and Poetics of Translation as Hospitality
      (pp. 168-184)

      I come from Bari, a city located on Italy’s southeastern shores, and, in 1991, the site of one of the most dramatic events to prove our unpreparedness to deal with mass exoduses. The event was called “the Albanian emergency,” in which the word “emergency” was already used as a synonym for danger of invasion, flooding, or border crisis. I am evoking and invoking one of the most outrageous and shocking sights resulting from the breakdown of a totalitarian hegemony inside the last post–Cold War Europe an communist state, Albania. I am evoking the exodus of a large portion of...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 185-198)
  8. Works Cited
    (pp. 199-210)
  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 211-214)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-222)