Call for papers: Hospitality

The Ambiguous Objects of Hospitality: Material Ethics, Houses and Dangerous Guests
Matei Candea (University of Cambridge) and Giovanni da Col (University of Cambridge)
Panel to be held at the 2009 Conference of the Association of Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (ASA),  Bristol (UK), 6-9 April 2009.
Short Abstract
By foregrounding the materiality of hospitality, this panel reconsiders classic themes in the anthropology of hospitality such as the inherent ambivalence of the guest-host relation and the tendency of hospitality practices to replicate across scale.

Long Abstract
Our panel invites both archaeologists and anthropologists to reconsider the notion of hospitality in their research. As a key social form for mediating relations with a potentially dangerous 'Other', hospitality is central to making ethics visible in many socio-cultural settings. Hospitality is enabled not just by symbolic structures of reciprocity and patronage but by the physical transaction of things and the situated inhabitation/exploitation of places.

By focusing on the materiality of hospitality, this panel revisits:

> Ambivalence: from the mundane (houses, thresholds, mining sites) to the extraordinary (gemstones, ghosts, poison) the objects of hospitality are always 'objectiles', object-events which threaten to collapse into their opposites and elicit magical or paranoid responses: food may turn into poison, homes into prisons, mines or archaeological sites into graves, ores into cursed wealth and guests into parasites. How can anthropologists track and theorise such moments of transformation? What of acts of hospitality which turn people themselves into things, usable, exploitable assets, indexes of other intentionalities?
> Scale: If houses, as Levi-Strauss argued, are topological entities which can unite theoretically incompatible principles of relatedness, what happens when the language of hospitality connects houses to 'containing' entities on other scales, villages, nations, or 'homelands', when guests and hosts come to stand for collective entities, immigrant communities, miners plumbing the entrails of the land, armies, corporations and states. How are such scale shifts managed and how are connections made between entities which have their own distinct materialities? Is hospitality, thus extended, a holographic metaphor, or a reconfigured assemblage?
> We very much think that your work and research interests could greatly contribute to the panel and make the discussion exciting. Michael Herzfeld will be the discussant. Each paper will be allocated about 20 minutes. The abstracts deadline is the 6th of February but we would need to hear from you as soon as possible whether you intend to accept our invitation and submit an abstract. Abstracts should be submitted online, following the link at the bottom of this webpage:
> Papers do not need to be polished and you could just send them (even in their draft form or presentation notes) a few days before the conference. Ideally, we hope to put together a special issue on Hospitality for an anthropological journal and we hope speakers would be interested in submitting a publishable version of your paper at a later date.
> Please do not hesitate to contact either Giovanni da Col (gd228(a) or Matei Candea (mc288(a) if you need further details.
> We would also appreciate if you could circulate this email on your mailing lists and forward it to anyone potentially interested in the topic.