The ethics and politics of hospitality in contemporary French society : Beur literary translations
The thesis examines the issue of the ethics and politics of hospitality in the French contemporary context in relation to the diasporic populations of the descendants of post-war North African immigrants or the 'Beur', using an approach which combines philosophy, sociology and literature. I argue that the concept of hospitality has been framed by the enduring effects of colonial legacy, the legacy of the 'camp-thinking' mentality marked by bio-cultural kinship and the ties of blood or 'race' as the basis for belonging to a nation. I maintain that hospitality is exactly the anti-logic of the camp-thinking mentality in its rejection of closure and overdetermination by keeping the political open to the ethical. Even though a hiatus between the ethics and the politics of hospitality exists, the two can not exist separately. I argue that this aporia does not mean paralysis, but in fact, it means the primacy of the ethics of hospitality over politics, and thus, keeps alive the danger of hostility in the making of the politics of hospitality by means of 'political invention' that respects the uniqueness of the Other and that does not exclude him/her every time a decision is taken. The language of deconstruction and its political and ethical rejection of nationalisms, borders and centres reflects the experience of those who are marginalised at the peripheries of societies, whom I call the hyphenated peoples or diasporic populations like the Beurs. But at the same time, this language enables them to assert and articulate their own existence, their own politics and identities in a way that opens new possibilities of resistance to violence and exclusion. Jacques Derrida's concepts of marginality, diaspora, translation and democracy-to-come express the experience of minority diasporic groups such as the Beurs in France. I attempt a close deconstructive reading of the Beur texts in order to trace their translations of the contradictions of French hospitality and the way the Beurs have been 'racialised' as an 'external group' threatening the supposed 'purity' of the French national culture by their physical, cultural and religious 'difference' though they are French citizens with strong affiliations with France. I argue that with their mixed origins and cultural multiplicity, the Beurs resist the authority of the 'constructed' and 'mythical' national purity and cultural determinis1n, since their position at the threshold between communities (the French and the North African immigrant communities) and national camps (the French and the North Africans) allows them to offer a basis for solidarity that transcends ethnic absolutism and national belonging. I argue in my thesis that it is the diasporic populations such as the Beurs in France that can open up hospitality to an attitude beyond nationalistic determinism and xenophobia.