Hospitality and European Films: A Syllabus


The analyses of the different films are carried out within a particular theoretical approach. Both aspects, theory and film analysis, have been presented to the students at workshops or seminars, both at the graduate and the post-graduate level in the universities involved.

The films are grouped within 8 different thematic axes. Please click on the links below for a detailed analysis of each film.


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Beyond the Nation-Sate: Hosting de facto Stateless Migrants.

Stemming from Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism and the notion of “the stateless”, Agamben’s “homo sacer”, Nancy’s “abandoned being”, Kristeva’s concept of “the abject”, Butler and Spivak’s notion of “spectral beings”, and Bauman’s concept of “the disposable”, this axis looks at the different representations of the immigrant-guest in film.

Between Guests and Hostages: Camps New and Old.

In Wasted Lives, Bauman claims that “The production of ‘human waste’, or more correctly wasted humans . . . is an inevitable outcome of modernization, and an inseparable accompaniment of modernity” (2004, 5). The natural destinations for this kind of human is what he calls “dumping sites”. This task situates the camp, or “dumping site,” at the centre of a hostile hospitality and follows the routinization of the camp as explored in Agamben’s Homo Sacer.

Hosting the Parasite

In the current political and economic climate it is very common to see the immigrant compared to a parasite. Migrants have been portrayed as free loaders always ready to parasitize on the host country, always portrayed as abused by the frequently uninvited guests. This axis looks at films that deal with the alleged parasite as the disturber of the peace, the agent that disrupts categories, for it shows how the host may be dependent on the parasite.

Hosting the Zombie

At a time of unprecedented migrations and population flows, critics such as Jon Stratton and Shaviro have noted that the migrant and the refugee have shifted towards the zombie-spectral. Zombie invasions are suggestive of alleged immigrant invasions. They exemplify a familiar relationship to borders and space. Citizens of besieged countries tend to barricade themselves and maintain surveillance to exclude the zombie.

Places of Hostipitality

There is no Statue of Liberty in Europe, no Emma Lazarus’ verses embracing the newcomers. In fact, Hostipitality takes place in what can be considered the “infected” spaces of the nation-state as opposed to its “domestic” spaces. Significantly, non-places such as hotels appear as the repeating spaces of hostipitality. As the space of commercial hospitality, the hotel, in Rosello’s Postcolonial Hospitality, may be a more accurate term to refer to the host country, for migrants are frequently “paying” guests.

Private Hospitality as Hopescape

As a structure, hospitality “regulates relations between inside and outside, and, in that sense, between private and public. Someone or ones, categorized as ‘outside,’ as not necessarily by right or legal contract part of the ‘inside,’ is temporarily brought within” (Still 2010, 11). “That,” claims Derrida, “is what hospitality does, blur the border” (1999, 73). Dismantling the border is at the core of private hospitality, where nationalities and political alliances, the mandates of public or state hospitality, may be suspended. The project intends to analyse how the dismantling of the border is possible in the personal space of the home.

We Are Here-You Were There: Hospitality, Amnesia and Historical Memory

The recent arrival of immigrants and refugees to Western Europe has frequently given rise to extreme right ideologies that claim Europe needs to be in control of its own borders. Hospitality is no longer seen as a barometer of civilization but rather as a mark of weakness. Implicit in the rejection of the Other is a cultural and historical amnesia that seems to deny that the history of Europe has been a history of migratory flows, massive exodus, and colonial appropriations. This task centers on how amnesia reinforces extremism and racist politics.

Transversal Axis: Linguistic Hospitality

Drawing from Paul Ricoeur’s term “linguistic hospitality” (2006, 23), we contend that linguistic hospitality may follow the aporetic movements of hospitality and the changing roles of host and guest.