Experience of Urban Hospitality: An Ecological Approach to the Migrants’ World

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Experience of Urban Hospitality: An Ecological Approach to the Migrants’ World


  • Louise Carlier Faculty of Economic, Social and Political Sciences and Communication, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium


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Abstract:  This article was inspired by a collaborative action-research experience undertaken in Brussels by ARCH (Action Research Collective for Hospitality), aimed at further understanding the dynamics of hospitality and improving hospitality towards refugees, based on collaboration with actors of civil society. In a context of spreading policies of hostility and exclusion in Europe and the lack of arrival infrastructures for undocumented migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, the people tend to occupy public spaces of the city. Consequently, these spaces become the central nodes where civil society organizes the humanitarian aid and practices of hospitality and at the same time are places for interactional tensions and institutional violence. In other words, they become an urban stage where the tension between hospitality and exclusion is played out. Based on this research, our article proposes to take the urban consequences of hostility policies seriously by analyzing the ecology of the migrants’ world in the city. Our aim is to understand their experience of segregation and hospitality in the urban environment—and more specifically in public spaces. Public spaces are indeed the only livable spaces for people for whom no room has been made. However, what constitutes their hospitality for migrants, i.e., their capacity to be inhabited, enters into tension with the constitutive dimensions of urban publicness (like accessibility, visibility, or urbanity). Understanding the experience of hospitality in urban public spaces for those who have no other place to live is seen as a condition as well as a means to enhance their urban inclusion.

Keywords:  city; ecology; inclusion; hospitality; hostility; migration; public space; urbanity; visibility

Published:   31 August 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v5i3.3069


© Louise Carlier. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.