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Hospitality and the Maternal




This article engages the concept of hospitality as it relates to the maternal. I critically evaluate the current conceptions of hospitality by Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, focusing on their dematerialized definition of the feminine found at the heart of hospitality, and Derrida's aporia of hospitality that deals with ownership. The foundation of hospitality, I show, is the maternal relation and its specific acts of hospitality that encompass the notions of gift and generosity. While remaining unthought in philosophy, however, maternal acts of hospitality are appropriated when hospitality is defined as interiority, habitation, expectancy, and unconditional welcoming of the other within oneself. I argue that hospitality would remain Derrida's and his proponents' “impossible” ethic as long as it undercuts its own promise, does not fully think through its foundation in the maternal, and fails to welcome the mother unconditionally.