Through a hospitality lens, the article looks at an Evangelical grassroots
organization’s practice of house visits to Syrian refugees in Mafraq, Jordan. It begins
by situating the hosting practices of European volunteers in the context of Mafraq’s
multi-layered NGO environment and within the emerging literature on the role of
transnational support networks in faith-based humanitarianism. A review of philosophical
and anthropological literatures reveals how power dynamics and bordering
practices shape the hospitality encounter. Its function as a scale-shifter between the
local and the national makes “hospitality” well-suited for the study of displacement.
Subsequent parts of the article explore volunteers’ acts of infringement on Syrians’ hospitality
code that allow them to “contain” refugees’ demands for aid. The final section
revisits Boltanski’s theory of a “politics of pity” in communicating distant suffering. The
set-up of house visits forces refugees to perform “suffering” which provides the raw
material for volunteers’ moving testimonies back home.
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