{ uninvited guest }


Hospitality raises the eternal question of how to receive the Other. The term hospitality derives from two Latin words that contradict each other in meaning: hospes and hostis. Hospes points towards hospitality and hostis in the direction of hostility. There are two components in hospitality: the host and the guest.

My research delves into the theme of uninvited guests, utilizing a method that involves juxtaposing the narratives of European orientalists with those of the ‘orientals’ to uncover inherent contradictions. The apex of my investigation lies in the farewell dinner orchestrated by the king at the Grand Hôtel during the congress, which I have chosen as the focal point of my study. A particularly notable aspect of this dinner was the unique menu distributed to the conference attendees: several months prior to the congress, select delegates, including Orientals and orientalists, were tasked with providing short descriptions of the dishes in their own language or the language of their profession, as well as in French, German, or English—whether in prose or verse. These descriptions, totalling fifteen different dishes in various languages, were then compiled and printed by Brill in Leiden, the sole publishing house equipped with all the requisite typefaces.


Ahmed Al Nawas