Building community through hospitality: indirect obligations to reciprocate in a transnational speech community

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Abstract

Anthropologists largely draw on the theoretical assumption that the interactional
practices underlying hospitality are akin to those of gifting. Yet, by focussing on the giving and receiving of hospitality, such scholarship has failed to address these exchanges’ third element: reciprocating. Faced with this, this article reflects on travelling among Esperanto speakers in France, aiming to grasp how hospitality gains prominence in turning people into fully fledged Esperanto speakers through promoting intercultural, multilingual and cross-border exchanges. Asking what Mauss, Pitt-Rivers and Sahlins would have written about reciprocity had they come across backpackers, couchsurfers and Esperanto speakers, I explore why reciprocity and hospitality are vital for the existence of the Esperanto speech community and, more broadly, what is the place of reciprocity in hospitality. From the ethnography presented, I argue that hospitality can also emerge as a community-building mechanism, stemming from indirect obligations to reciprocate that may paradoxically constitute both short-lived dyadic relationships and long-standing communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalEthnography
VolumeOnlineFirst
Early online date19 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Transnational community, indirect obligation
  • Esperanto
  • Hospitality
  • Reciprocity
  • Community-building
  • Speech community
  • Scale shift
  • Internationality
  • Nationality

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