The Spectre of Montezuma: Hospitality and Haunting
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By way of a retelling of the story of Montezuma's tragic end at the hands of his inhospitable guest, Cort鳬 this article recovers the spectral presence of wronged hosts in the history of international hospitality. While conditional hospitality, as Jacques Derrida shows, is stalked by the absent or wronged guest, unconditional hospitality is disturbed by the abused host. Derridean deconstruction allows for this counter-haunting; but the host-harming history of hospitality has nonetheless been neglected for two reasons, which a genealogy of hospitality illuminates. Firstly, because it is the hospitality narrative of the little people who, though risking more in offering hospitality, have been marginal in writing its history. Secondly, because the little people's narrative was overwritten by the Homeric account of hospitality - the unlimited welcome of heroes by their fellow elites. Offering more but risking less, this aristocratic hospitality narrative no longer portrayed hosting as precarious. What deconstruction and genealogy together show is that hospitality could never be anything other than precarious, lacking both conceptual stability and historical unity. Thus the ethics of hospitality is always already a politics of hospitality.
Millennium: Journal of International Studies
Copyright 2010 SAGE Publications. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.