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Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh and Mette Louise Berg

Throughout history, migration has been at the heart of the transformation of societies and communities. At the same time, changing dynamics across social, economic, political, cultural, and environmental realms have influenced processes of migration and (im)mobility around the world in different ways, including by facilitating, forcing, preventing, normalizing, criminalizing, and securitizing the movement of diverse people and objects. As academic, political, policy, and popular interest in migration has increased in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, so too has the need to remain attentive to the long histories, wide-ranging geographies, and multiple directionalities of different forms of migration. Indeed, the growing interest in migration makes it important to continue to interrogate how, why, and with what effect different people and institutions study, teach, and respond to migration. This includes posing questions such as: how do we, and could we, conceptualize and resist particular ways of framing migration and mobility; whose vantage points are centralized and whose are erased from view and ignored in migration studies and policies; who counts as a migrant in the first place; and to what extent and how can a focus on migration stimulate more nuanced and engaged ways of being in and responding to the world around us?

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Introduction to the Issue

Encountering Hospitality and Hostility

Mette Louise Berg and Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh

This introductory article to the inaugural issue of Migration and Society reflects on the complex and often contradictory nature of migration encounters by focusing on diverse dynamics of hospitality and hostility towards migrants around the world and in different historical contexts. Discourses, practices, and policies of hospitality and hostility towards migrants and refugees raise urgent moral, ethical, political, and social questions. Hospitality and hostility are interlinked, yet seemingly contradictory concepts and processes, as also acknowledged by earlier writers, including Derrida, who coined the term hostipitality. Drawing on Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s work and on feminist scholars of care, we argue for the need to trace alternative modes of thought and action that transcend and resist the fatalistic invocations of hostipitality. This requires an unpacking of the categories of host and guest, taking us from universalizing claims and the taxonomy of host-guest relations to the messiness of everyday life and its potential for care, generosity, and recognition in encounters.