Terms of Hospitality: Abdulrazak Gurnah's By the Sea

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Abstract / Description of output

This article seeks to relate asylum issues to postcolonial studies. In the current immigration climate hospitality is an increasingly conditional provision; refugees are reclassifi ed as asylum seekers, conditional presences dependent on the discretion of the host. Following Derrida’s investigation of hospitable relationships, I examine how the reception of the asylum seeker is made conditional, through a reading of the relationship between an asylum seeker, Saleh Omar, and his various hosts in Abdulrazak Gurnah’s novel By the Sea (2001). I argue that the increasingly fractured legal terminology of asylum represents a deliberate strategy of exclusion, and read the encounter between host and guest as a contest to defi ne hospitality as either conditional or unconditional. I also consider Derrida’s assertion that this contest is always interrupted by the urgent need to make a decision and how this interruption can represent a postcolonial inversion of the neo-colonial relationship of host and guest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-139
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Commonwealth Literature
Volume43
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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