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 could provide. By so doing, they have re-awakened an old form of anthropology that was long-considered to be dead – that of hospitality.

In this book, Agier develops an original anthropology of hospitality that starts from the reality of hospitality as a social relationship, albeit an asymmetrical one, in which each party has rights and duties. He argues that, with the decline of state and religious support, hospitality is now making a comeback at 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 will treat the stranger as a guest rather than as an alien or an enemy.

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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  • March 2021
  • 160 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $59.95
  • 9781509539888
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509539895
  • Open eBook $48.00
  • 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.
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“Michel Agier has created a sensitive and innovative anthropology which does not describe social types: rather, it analyses relations, through participation in the migrant’s trials and solidarity with their efforts to overcome a condition of fear and hostility, often death. Delineating the multiple figures of the stranger that we are all, he paves the way for a cosmopolitanism of the wandering humanity, our coming humanity.”
Etienne Balibar, author of Secularism and Cosmopolitanism

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