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Volume 4, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2042-7913
  • E-ISSN: 2042-7921



Conceptualizations of hospitality have often been framed along with binary oppositions, envisaging this phenomenon either as a philosophical universal abstraction or as a social practice, to be approached mainly from a functionalist perspective. As a result, hospitality has been presented as an ambivalent and paradoxical phenomenon, hard to understand and enact in everyday life because of irreconcilable contradictions lying at its heart. This article highlights how such dichotomies appear to be fundamental features of Georgian hospitality. Hospitality is perceived and defined as a national tradition, following norms reproduced throughout time and space. Hospitality features are attached indifferently both to individuals and to households, and to the Georgian nation as a unitary entity. However, tradition is intertwined with pragmatism. Far from being a timeless cultural institution, hospitality stems from social actors’ changing meanings and purposes, embedded in specific spatial and temporal contexts. As a form of reciprocal exchange, hospitality establishes social networks that develop upon relationships of solidarity and trust. However, hospitality has a competitive nature, which fosters exclusiveness and reproduces inequality. Drawing upon anthropological literature and ethnographic data collected in Georgia and London, this article attempts to deconstruct mutual oppositions through which hospitality is often analysed. The apparently inherent ambivalence detectable in hospitality does not turn this phenomenon into an unsolvable conundrum. Instead, pointing at Bourdieu’s notions of habitus and misrecognition, the article suggests that ambivalence can be handled not through a series of radical antinomies, but by focusing on social actors’ understandings and agency.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): ambivalence; Bourdieu; Georgia; hospitality; pragmatism; tradition
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