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Notes around Hospitality as Inhabitation

Engaging with the Politics of Care and Refugees’ Dwelling Practices in the Italian Urban Context

Camillo Boano and Giovanna Astolfo

Abstract

Hospitality has become a dominant notion in relation to asylum and immigration. Not only is it often used in public and state discourses, it is also prevalent in social analysis, in its ambivalent relationship with hostility and the control and management of population. Grounded in the Derridean suggestion of hospitality as “giving place” (2000: 25), we offer a reflection on hospitality centered around the notion of inhabitation. Framing hospitality as inhabitation helps to move away from problematic asymmetrical and colonial approaches to migration toward acknowledging the multiplicity of transformative experiences embedded in the city. It also enhances a more nuanced understanding of the complex entanglements of humanitarian dilemmas, refugees’ struggle for recognition and their desire for “opacity.” This article draws on five years of teaching-based engagement with the reality of refugees and asylum seekers hosted in the Sistema di Protezione Richiedenti Asilo e Rifugiati in Brescia, Italy.