Plastic hospitality : the empty signifier of the EU's first reception system in the Mediterranean
Title: Plastic hospitality : the empty signifier of the EU's first reception system in the Mediterranean
Author: DEBONO, Daniela
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2018/22; Global Governance Programme-302; [European, Transnational and Global Governance]; [Cultural Pluralism]
Hospitality and hospitality-laden language feature highly amongst people working in or around structures of first reception in Italy and Malta at the European Union external border. This is peculiar because hospitality rarely features at first reception which is part of the state’s border system. Characteristically security issues are prioritised, and the first reception system is managed by security agents of the state, in collaboration with EU and international security agents. In practice, first reception refers to the processes of identification, registration and classification that irregular migrants go through for having crossed the border without authorisation, and often, without identification. Drawing on long term and multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Italy and Malta, this paper examines some of the uses of hospitality language by a spectrum of territorial borderworkers operating with state, non-state, security, humanitarian and activist entities in these two countries. Discourse analysis yields interesting insights into how the use of the hospitality paradigm and hospitality terminology in first reception is less about hospitality practices and more about power. It proposes that the hospitality paradigm be conceptualised as a Laclauian empty signifier, and therefore a locus of power which is what should be targeted by political groups seeking change.
Subject: First reception; Hospitality; Italy; Malta; Migrants
Type of Access: openAccess