Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Baltic Hospitality: Receiving Strangers / Providing Security on theNorthern European Littoral, ca. 1000–1900

Ämne: History of Ideas
Projektledare: Leif Runefelt
Startår: 2019
Projekttyp: Projekt

With the migration crisis of 2015 and onwards, the dilemma of whether to receive orreject migrants has re-entered public debate. Some observers have announced the “endof hospitality” in Europe. Yet the claim of the recent crisis being unprecedented ignorespast experiences of similar dilemmas. Historically, relations between local communities and arriving strangers have always involved a tension between hospitality and hostility. Our project provides a transhistorical perspective on practical responses to strangers in the well-defined coastal regions of the Baltic and North Sea, allowing for new insights into the underlying mechanisms of hospitality/hostility. By reframing ‘migration crises’ asa question of host-guest relations which unavoidably entailed security challenges, thisproject will contribute with knowledge about how the political and ethical dilemmasinvolved in hospitality were resolved in the past, thus setting the current predicamentinto perspective. The purpose of this project is to determine how the tension between hospitality and hostility has been practically resolved by receiving and rejecting strangers ca.1000–1900 in the Baltic and North Sea regions. We are driven by the assumption that hospitality is constantly threatened by potentially hostile attitudes toward guests. The focus on initial confrontations will show how hospitality related to practices and spaces of security for oragainst arriving strangers in three pre-modern and modern contexts: 1. among missionary/crusader societies converting & colonizing the south-eastern Baltic coasts and its harbor cities (c. 1000–1300); 2. in the harbor cities of Malmö, Stockholm & Turkuduring the Swedish Wars (c. 1658–1720); 3. in the harbor cities of Rotterdam & Antwerp (c. 1860–1914). By providing a consistent focus on host-guest relations and practices of hospitality this project will develop new conceptual tools bridging over the nationally devised categories of refugee, migrant, displaced person and their pre-modern counterparts, thus enabling transhistorical comparisons