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Post-colonizing Hospitality: Cycling the Returning Transnational Migrant Guest in a Global Context

Authors: Malasree Acharya*, University of Delaware
Topics: Migration, Social Theory, Tourism Geography
Keywords: postcolonial theory, hospitality, migration, host, guest
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Within a world of circulating mobility, the returning transnational migrant reflects his or her own form of resistance through a redefinition of host-guest relations. This paper explores the movement of Indian entrepreneurs returning from the UK and the US to postcolonial India and its impact on power relations constituted by values of hospitality. 1990s continental philosophy links hospitality and immigration rights as a critique of French “anti-immigration agendas” (Rosello 2003) where migrant guests were denied entry from the (in)hospitable ‘host’ nation (Derrida 1997; Baudrillard 1993, Sayad 1991). Superimposing French interlocutors in a postcolonial lens where Western host nations colonized and later barred entry to its former colonial host-turned-slave subjects, I theorize how the cyclical return of cosmopolitan migrants creates a new set of host-guest values that govern the framework of hospitality’s power relations, while presenting ethnographic examples of returned entrepreneur experiences in India. This ‘return’ of elite migrants post-colonizes the very notion of hospitality. The returning entrepreneur functions as a semiotic conduit—actively reconstituting the binary roles of host and guest within the circulation of the very power relations to escape. In this way, an entrepreneur of Indian origin shifts his or her own power relationship with the West and India pushing out of the cycling of postcolonial histories. A question remains as to whether this post-colonization of hospitality by a return to the Global South liberates the migrant from the recurring guest-host power dynamic or if the cycle replicates itself as a new semiotic form of post-colonizing oppression.

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