The Stranger as My GuestA Critical Anthropology of Hospitality
The Stranger as My Guest
A Critical Anthropology of Hospitality
Translated by Helen Morrison

The migration crisis of recent years has elicited a double response: on the one hand, many states have responded by tightening border controls in an attempt to restrict population movements, while on the other hand, many citizens have responded by welcoming new arrivals, offering them shelter, food and whatever help they can provide. In so doing, they have awakened an old form of anthropology that was long-thought dead – that of hospitality.

While the notion of hospitality has been taken up by Derrida and other philosophers, Agier’s approach is different. As an anthropologist, he starts not from the concept but from the social reality: hospitality is fundamentally a social relationship, albeit an asymmetrical one, in which each party has rights and duties. It also involves institutions and networks which often provide the link between hosts and guests. With the decline of state and religious support, hospitality is now making a comeback at the individual and municipal levels, but these local initiatives, while important, are insufficient to respond to the scale of migration in the world today. We need a new hospitality policy for the modern era, one that will regard hospitality as a right rather than a favour and regard strangers as guests rather than treating them as aliens or enemies.

This timely and original book will be of great interest to students and scholars in anthropology, sociology and the social sciences generally, and to anyone concerned with migration and refugees in the world today.

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  • November 2020 (hb)
    March 2021 (pb)
  • 164 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9781509539888
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509539895
  • Open eBook $19.95
  • 9781509539901
Table of Contents
Introduction. Hospitality when least expected
Chapter 1. Making the stranger my guest
The conditions of unconditionality
The elementary forms of hospitality
From domestic hospitality to public hospitality
Chapter 2. Hospitality – the challenge of the present
Encounters of a new type
Hospitality – causes and effects
The emergence of municipal hospitality
From ghetto to migrant houses
Hospitable municipality versus hostile state
Chapter 3. The need for cosmopolitics
Cosmopolitanism today
The principle of hospitality and cosmopolitics from a philosophical perspective
Banal cosmopolitanism: an anthropological point of view
Chapter 4. Becoming a stranger
The death of Stavros or the birth of Joe Arness
Three times a stranger
The migrant poet and the spectre of the alien
Postscript. The stranger post Covid-19
About the Author
Michel Agier is Senior Researcher at the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, France. He is a leading authority on migration and refugees and his previous books in English include Borderlands, Managing the Undesirables and On the Margins of the World.
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