The Participatory Ideal Disturbed by the Stranger’s Welcome: Hospitality and Belonging in Tension within an Activist Community

Special Report: The Limits of Democratic Inclusion
By Joan Stavo-Debauge

This paper attempts to shed new light on participatory studies by focusing on the tensions between hospitality and belonging. The fieldwork involves a community of activists living together in an old house that is formally managed by a student-housing cooperative. The activists’ political stances are derived from the squat movement. To assess the tensions produced between hospitality and belonging, the paper follows the course of newcomers to this highly multicultural community. It shows how the inhabitants rediscovered in a rather short time the benefits and virtues of the grammar of political liberalism to accommodate and foster a common life in this setting, where clashes of convictions nearly destroyed the very foundations of the community.


  • community
  • hospitality
  • integration
  • stranger
  • squat
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