The Stranger as My Guest: A Critical Anthropology of Hospitality by Michel Agier
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.