Enlightenment Hospitality

BookEnlightenment Hospitality

Enlightenment Hospitality

Cannibals, Harems and Adoption

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2011:03


March 14th, 2011

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Hospitality, in particular hospitality to strangers, was promoted in the eighteenth century as a universal human virtue, but writing of the period reveals many telling examples of its abuse. Through analysis of encounters across cultural and sexual divides, Judith Still revisits the current debate about the social, moral and political values of the Enlightenment.

Focussing on (in)hospitality in relation to two kinds of exotic Other, Judith Still examines representations of indigenous peoples of the New World, both as hosts and as cannibals, and of the Moslem ‘Oriental’ in Persia and Turkey, associated with both the caravanserai (where travellers rest) and the harem. She also explores very different examples of Europeans as hosts and the practice of ‘adoption’, particularly that of young girls. The position of women in hospitality, hitherto neglected in favour of questions of cultural difference, is central to these analyses, and Still considers the work of women writers alongside more canonical male-authored texts. 

In this thought-provoking study, Judith Still uncovers how the Enlightenment rhetoric of openness and hospitality is compromised by self-interest; the questions it raises about attitudes to difference and freedom are equally relevant today. 

‘Still has a way of rendering her enthusiasm consistently contagious over the course of this encyclopedic study […] Still draws and builds on her prior work and deftly weaves analysis of gendered, sexual, and economic questions into her syntheses of themes.’
- Eighteenth Century Fiction 25, no. 1

‘In addition to being historical and critical, Still’s argument is methodological […] she does not repeat the rhetorical triangle of self-critique or the self-justifying comparison so common to Enlightenment discourses on hospitality. It is this that makes her study thickly post-colonial and feminist: instead of engaging in a guilt-driven Enlightenment critique, Still disentangles Enlightenment voices and power relations and reveals who is allowed to speak and who is silenced in the operating mechanisms of Enlightenment (in) hospitality.’
- Intellect Ltd Reviews, Hospitality and Society, Vol 2 no. 1

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
Table des matières6
1. Introducing Enlightenment hospitality12
i. Defining hospitality15
ii. Twentieth- and twenty-first-century thinking about hospitality19
iii. The Encyclopédie21
iv. (In)hospitality at home in the Enlightenment: the case of Rousseau24
v. Sexual difference and Rousseau again28
vi. (In)hospitality abroad: the exotic and slavery35
vii. The Spectator: hospitality and the other (woman)46
2. The New World: received as gods54
i. Context and land rights54
ii. Intimacy and guests bearing gifts58
iii. Hospitality and names63
iv. The hospitable New World (up to a point)72
v. French and/or Enlightenment exceptionalism88
3. The New World: eating the other98
i. From savages to cannibals98
ii. Eating the other: early modern debates111
iii. Voltaire and Jews: universalism and particularism116
iv. Why is the Ingénu a Breton?123
v. Lettres iroquoises127
vi. Critical debates on cannibalism today130
vii. Survival cannibalism and the effects of the encounter136
viii. Bougainville: language and witnesses140
ix. Missionaries and cannibals142
4. Enlightenment Persia148
i. Hospitality and orientalism: Chardin, Montesquieu and Buffon151
ii. Chardin: nomads and the caravenserai164
iii. Sybarites in Voyages en Perse and Lettres persanes169
iv. Eastern inhospitality: Mingrelia177
v. Chardin as refugee or French inhospitality178
vi. Who benefits and who speaks?181
vii. Montesquieu’s Persians as guests184
viii. The Persian ambassador: Mehemet Riza Beg185
5. Turkish travels: hospitable harems and good guests192
i. Montagu as traveller and the critical debate196
ii. The harem207
iii. Inoculation211
iv. Mehmed Efendi: a report on Le Paradis des infidèles214
v. Conditional hospitality221
6. The other as guest: the special case of adoption and sexual predation224
i. Introduction to adoption, hospitality and sexual predation225
ii. Turkish slaves: Charlotte-Elizabeth Aïssé and Histoire d’une Grecque moderne 227
iii. Charrière, three or four women243
iv. Ourika: thoughtless philanthropy253
v. Adopting at home: Millenium Hall258
vi. Conclusions263
7. Revolution and rights266
i. Revolutionary hospitality268
ii. Kant’s cosmopolitan right to hospitality272
iii. The question of universal right: Kant and Charrière274
iv. Critiques of le droit du plus fort – philosophy and fiction286
Concluding questions: now and then290
i. Universal and declining290
ii. Textual hospitality as eating well294