Derrida and Hospitality: Theory and Practice

Derrida and Hospitality: Theory and Practice

Derrida and Hospitality: Theory and Practice

Derrida and Hospitality: Theory and Practice


The subject of hospitality, critical to the writings of Jacques Derrida, offers a unique framework for analyzing the interactions among individuals and the (often inhospitable) response to outsiders, such as refugees or migrants. This volume marks the first full-length study of hospitality in Derridean thought. It particularly focuses on the thread of sexual difference, which sheds light on Derrida's exploration of the complex, delicate, strange yet familiar dance of being both good host and guest.

Judith Still sets Derrida's writings among a series of contexts, including the sociopolitical history of France, especially its relationship with Algeria, and the philosopher's association with other writers, most famously Hélène Cixous and Emmanuel Levinas, who were themselves key thinkers on hospitality.


Once again, here as elsewhere, wherever deconstruction is at stake, it
would be a matter of linking an affirmation (in particular a political one),
if there is any, to the experience of the impossible, which can only be a
radical experience of the perhaps.

(Une fois de plus, ici comme ailleurs, partout où il y va de la déconstruc
tion, il s’agirait de lier une affirmation (en particulier politique), s’il y en a,
à l'expérience de l'impossible, qui ne peut être qu'une expérience radicale
du peut-être.)

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 states of the pre-expansion European community to these newcomers is often phrased in the language of (the limits of) hospitality. in France in particular there has subsequently been a significant response, not only by political scientists or sociologists, but also from the arts and philosophy, in the face of the increasing inhospitality of the French state. the second factor is the existence of a growing body of powerful philosophical writing, some of which pre-dates the current wave of post-colonial xenophobia, and most of which draws on the experiences of colonialism and of the Second World War as well as the stimulus of more recent events. the third factor, which is perhaps more powerful in the us and the uk than in France, but is important throughout the world, is commercial globalisation, tourism and travel – the ‘hospitality business’ . . .

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