Hospitality is not fixed! Hospitality as welcoming the uncertainties of human relations

– Kolar and Arlene

In a globalizing world hospitality is not anymore about ‘Us’ Welcoming ‘Them’ because it became unclear who is ‘Us’ and who is ‘Them’. In the same time, the feeling of ‘being welcome or not’ is not something only relevant to ‘new arrivals’, but also experienced by many people living in a society for very long and yet feeling unwelcome and excluded. Hospitality is then something that is a process initiated and negotiated constantly. However, in the debates of migration and hospitality from the point of view of countries and nation-states there is a tendency to assume homogenous fixed groups of ‘Us’ welcoming ‘Them’ as if these are fixed boxes. Words such as ‘our’ society and ‘them’ refugees/migrants are being used. Who has the power to welcome whom? Who is forced to depend on whose hospitality and why? These are important power-related questions we have to confront today.

The voices of refugees and undocumented migrants are conflicting. They are pushed to reject help (“I do not want help! I want to work and contribute to society“) while at the same time admitting to the realities of dependency on help of others (“I have no rights but to demand hospitality!“). The reality of hospitality is based on unequal relations of dependency that criminalizes people travelling and living without papers that they are unable to get. We then call for hospitality as a process in which (rather than ‘Us’ welcoming ‘Them’ based on a system of documents) individual and collective roles are constantly negotiated, identities are constantly being shaped in relation to each other, and even the most powerless have power in just sheer presence by simply being there with all the differences and the power of silences that silenced voices bring. So can we imagine a world and societies based on no borders of documents? Can we think of hospitality based on the notion that travelling and migration is as normal to human nature, as much as staying ‘in place’? Can we think of hospitality based on friendships rather than fear? Can we think of hospitality as the process of being hospitable to the uncertainties of human inter-actions and inter-human actions? Because that is what hospitality is about —a practice of being open to the unpredictabilities of one’s own transformations in relation to each other and of such human interactions. It is about the willingness to give and take at the same time.

Cross-Border Friendship
by Arlene

Feel warm, my home is your home!
The earth belongs to everyone.
There are no borders.
Everyone is free to go and stay where (s)he wants.
Everybody gives shelter and food to the travellers,
because they travel themselves and want to be treated the same way.
Nobody will be a foreigner because we live in the same land/world.
I am ready, motivated to be with you like a friend because I am glad to
have a new friend.