Critical Hospitality Symposium, Critical Hospitality Symposium II: Hospitality IS Society

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Bridging the binaries of difference: Hospitality as care
Brielle Gillovic, Alison McIntosh, Cheryl Cockburn-Wootten, Simon Darcy

Last modified: 2018-07-02


This presentation explores experiences of care as hospitality during travel, from the perspectives of carers of people with intellectual disabilities. As the notion of hospitality itself can be based on binaries such as self-other and exclusion-inclusion, hospitality as care too, is often care-less yet has the potential to be care-full. In this way, hospitality reproduces or resists dominant disability discourse and reinforces or reframes the wider cultural rhetoric around who is seen, heard and valued.

Drawing on interviews with twelve carers based in New Zealand, we explore the tensions and complexities involved in negotiating the travel experience as carers face, at best, a gaze of discipline and discrimination, and at worst, disembodiment and dehumanisation. A disconnect between what mandates ‘acceptable’ societal behaviour and norms coupled with the (in) visibility and (non) disclosure of disability and care, necessitates the performance of care and emotional agility. Examples of this described by the research participants relate to issues of anticipating behavioural escalations in the public space, and what becomes manageable, a disturbance or unruly to others. A main finding of this research however is that despite the inherent difficulties of care, the value of giving care to facilitate the travel experience is fundamental – a labour of love.

This presentation concludes with implications for how the lens of hospitality can be reimagined to contribute an ethic of care in travel, where we meaningfully engage with the margins, embrace difference and celebrate the commonality of our humanity. Indeed, if hospitality IS society, then it should be about ‘meeting one another morally’.

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