Re-Orienting Democratic Hospitality: Breaching Liberal Economies of Welcome

Edinburgh University Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Derrida Today, 2011, 4 (2), pp. 194 - 214
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Does democracy lead to more ethical or just systems of welcoming, of hospitality? Derrida considers an analysis of sovereignty as pivotal to any re-evaluation of contemporary politics and ethics, tying such a project in with deconstructions of democracy and hospitality: `what is living together??must one live together only with one's like, with someone semblables? he asks in Rogues, prompting us to think through what it means to be, at once, democratic and hospitable. In this paper I propose that Derrida provides us with a way of re-orienting democracy and hospitality that complicates conditions of citizenship and belonging, of the nation-state and sovereignty and of justice and unconditionality. It is the contention of this paper that deconstructing sovereignty is essential for any re-orientation of practices of hospitality within liberal democratic countries. The figure of the foreigner and questions of hospitality reveal a deep ambivalence at the core of democracy in the sense that it provokes the desire for openness and closure simultaneously. In closing, I raise questions concerning the potential for deconstructive practice to engage in a future politico-ethics of the border in light of this critical evaluation of democracy. In so doing, I consider the role of deconstruction in relation to liberal modalities of hospitality.
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