The meagreness of contemporary hospitality

"As far as our memories can go there has been war. The Iliad narrated one of them. After the war : the Odyssey. The ones who did not return to their countries, neither alive nor dead, have been wandering through the whole world for a long time. (…)
"What shall we become ?" say those who left their name, their family, their roots very far behind, those who we call "refugees", "clandestine", "without papers", "immigrants" and who, nobly, call themselves "travelers". Brutally, they traveled "contained" in holds and trucks, sneaking across borders, without knowing where and when their dangerous journey will end, this journey that makes them measure from port to coast and from door to door the meagreness of contemporary hospitality. (…)
And we, sitting in our relatively moderate countries, who are we ? Their fellows ? Their witnesses ? Their enemies ? Their friends ? Former travelers who have forgotten ? Or people for who travel is waiting around the corner ?"
Extracts from the presentation of the theatre play
"Le dernier Caravanserail (Odyssées)"
Collective creation of the Théâtre du Soleil

The murmuring of the world reaching the Andalusian landscape spreading in front of me carries the stories of refugees, of travelers, of immigrants, of utopists and adventurers of modern times. Here in Spain, on the Mediterranean coast of Almeria and not far from the mythical Grenada, every morning fragile boats arrive, the famous "pateras", which run aground having on board young Moroccans who "try their luck" coming trough this narrow and dangerous gate. Some of them lose their lives in this dangerous adventure with multiple ingredients : illusion, misery, toughness of everyday life, death of children and the irrepressible need to go elsewhere, further… Every morning we read in the newspapers about the number of people brought back to Morocco by the Guardia Civil, the Spanish Police and, sometimes, about the number of lifeless bodies found - more than seventy since the beginning of the year. In addition to this tragic enumeration there are thousands of immigrants without papers found by Police in the main lands and directly taken to prison. The Iberian radios are touched by individual stories : tonight it was the turn of a woman with her two young children to be stranded on the Andalusian coast, the children hadn't eaten for the past forty-eight hours ! As for the other stories, the more day-to-day ones, they're regarded, by the fatalists of this country, as the price to pay for modernity. As I'm writing this editorial, sixty young Moroccans including one woman are being intercepted on the coast of Almeria. There has been over the range of fifty to a hundred per day during August, and this estimation goes only for the coast of Andalusia. The debate centers around the necessary severity on one hand and on the other hand on the necessity to decently welcome them and to engage actions that they won't be forced to leave their countries under these conditions. Not a lot of voices are being raised to remind people that these refugees have always existed, whether it's here or elsewhere and that not so long ago Spain itself was nourishing the lines of refugees during and after the civil war, as well as the immigrants who were escaping dictatorship and everyday hardship. As we turn towards other regions, only very few admit that these travelers are part of the modern societies "in motion" and that we need to welcome them and learn from them so as to live altogether in order to constitute tomorrow's world : manifold and bearing the signs of multiple political or economical ruptures.

Accéder à l'article PDF

Texte initial :
Moro MR, Heidenreich F. The meagreness of contemporary hospitality. L'autre, Cliniques, Cultures et Sociétés 2003 ; 4(3) "Cliniques des Amériques" : 325-8.

- Tous droits réservés ©, AIEP, Centre Babel 2016