This article discusses the legal and institutional framework of refugee hospitality
in Portugal. This sets the context for an analysis of how hospitality encounters
take place in northern towns between asylum seekers, refugees, voluntary hosting
institutions, public services, and volunteers. The aim is to enquire into the conflicting
expectations, morals, and values of these different people and institutions, and into
how they are managed and negotiated in practice. Through focusing on the “moral
subjectivities” of individuals, the data elucidates the tensions that arise between charity-
based and rights-based approaches, how misunderstandings arise and are avoided
through engaging in “contextual protection,” and how linear transitions from hospitality
to hostility cannot be presumed.
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