Postcolonial Hospitality: The Immigrant as Guest

Postcolonial Hospitality: The Immigrant as Guest

Postcolonial Hospitality: The Immigrant as Guest

Postcolonial Hospitality: The Immigrant as Guest

Synopsis

In recent years, hospitality has emerged as a category in French thinking for addressing a range of issues associated with immigration and other types of journeys. Rosello's book concentrates primarily on France and its former colonies in North and sub-Saharan Africa and considers how hospitality and its dissidence are defined, practiced, and represented in European and African fictions, theories, and myths at the end of the twentieth century. Postcolonial Hospitality explores the ways in which Western superpowers rewrite ideals of hospitality that are borrowed from a variety of sources and that sometimes constitute an incompatible system of values.

Each chapter focuses on a problematic moment when hospitality is read either as excessive or lacking: when the host does not give what is ideally expected; when the guest is mistreated rather than protected; when the guest abuses the host rather than being grateful. In considering these issues, the author examines the relationship between ownership and generosity, focusing specifically on the connections among nationalism, immigration, and hospitality. Because the intersections between cultural differences and issues of gender often expose the fragility or arbitrariness of hospitable conventions, the author studies novels, films, and immigrant interviews that explore those moments of crisis when systems of hospitality clash.

Excerpt

How is immigration historically and theoretically linked to hospitality? How does the memory of colonization and decolonization alter the definition of hospitality between individuals and states whose cultures may construct the host and the guest in radically incompatible ways? Why are immigrants often imagined as the “guests” of other nations, and how can we conceptualize a postcolonial guest? Is it someone who has been invited by a postcolonial host? Is a postcolonial host always defined as a citizen of a host nation?

My initial intuition was that the changing shape of international relations was bound to modify our definition of hospitality in general: ideally, the proliferation of new types of journey should correspond to different types of hospitality: migrants, the members of diasporas, jet-setters, business travelers, refugees, asylum seekers, commuters, tourists, delocalized workers, powerful and powerless travelers, all need to receive or grant hospitality. Yet there is no sign that our supposedly global village has started thinking about a global yet diverse law of hospitality, and this book seeks to reflect upon this paradoxical absence.

It is illusory to posit the existence of a good old time when sedentary tribes could rest assured that their timeless routine would never be challenged by the arrival of a stranger. and I suspect that people who perceive their own cherished homeland as threatened by herds of dangerous foreigners could be contradicted by statistics. But what is the power of statistics against fear or mutual mistrust? Symbols, images, slogans, and stories may be much more representative of the anxieties, pains, or joys experienced by individuals and communities grappling with what it means to offer or deny hospitality. Such narratives include vastly different types of discourses . . .

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