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Hospitality and the Immigration Crisis. We Are All from Elsewhere

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Abstract

Today’s immigration responds to three motivations: economic, domestic, and political. In all cases, hospitality would be a positive recourse, for the current situation cries out for a psycho-social revolution: a return to an attitude of openness and sharing at the personal level that could then influence institutional and political beneficence. The two iconic sources of the concept of hospitality are The Bible and The Odyssey, both of which describe wandering and welcome. Sometime in the seventeenth century the practice of hospitality changed to focus on self and not the other, a transition facilitated by the growing domination of the mercantile and the commercial. The result is that the personal host has been largely taken out of hospitality, and with it what Derrida and Levinas propose as the ethical foundation of hospitality. The complete monetarization of modern living has caused economic considerations to dominate all others. Yet, adopting a sense of hospitality would involve exposing ourselves as brothers and sisters to the strangers, and in the process rehumanizing relationships in a world that has increasingly valued commerce over compassion and distancing over direct contact.

Keywords

Hospitality, immigration, materialism, narcissism, Bible, Odyssey, La Fontaine, Derrida, Levinas

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