Sylvia Schafer

Associate Professor of History, University of Connecticut

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
12:30pm – 2:00pm

Storrs Campus, Austin, Room 301

“Reciprocity, Equivalence, and Difference: Thinking about Outsiders, the Ethics of Hospitality, and Illness in France, 1850-1912”

This talk will explore new efforts in this period to address to the perennial question of how and when to care for foreigners in physical distress. The fin-de-siècle l'hoteldieutransformations in the French state’s understanding of charity, hospitality, and rights accompanied the broader coalescence of a new language for governing difference across national borders – and the borders of health and sickness — through tropes of equivalence and exchangeability. This new language would in turn provide a crucial figurative foundation for bilateral reciprocal assistance accords drafted on the eve of World War I and concluded between France and its neighbors after the war’s end. French authorities and jurists thus delineated an important interstitial space in twentieth-century practices of governing non-nationals that depended neither on an ideal of common human identity nor on a unyielding principle of xenophobic exclusion. This was a space of conditional welcome that left difference firmly in place.