Hospitality and sovereign violence: Derrida on Lot

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Derrida’s work on hospitality presents particular local conventions of hospitality as in a necessary but impossible relationship with an absolute hospitality, the obligation to welcome the other without conditions. Although this absolute hospitality is commonly read as the aspiration to which all of our practices of hospitality should tend, Derrida proposes a series of examples that show the dangers implicit in an automatic or limitless welcoming. The most famous of these is that of the Old Testament patriarch, Lot. The aim of this paper is to show, however, that the Genesis story is not primarily a parable about correct and incorrect practices of hospitality. In fact, what is at stake in the visit of the angels to Lot is the covenant between Abraham’s line and the divine and the coming into the world of God’s absolute sovereign violence. Derrida’s account of hospitality is thus part of his discussion of sovereignty, its limitlessness, force and danger.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalDerrida Today
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Derrida
  • hospitality
  • sovereignty


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