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Hospitality at Thresholds


If dwelling spaces, for example a house, serve the goal of habitation with the help of exterior walls which is to protect its inhabitants against adverse elements and with a door to instantiate hospitality and discern between enemy and friend, what is the reason for the designation of a special place often called a threshold? In other words, if humanity can be known and recognized in terms of its modes of dwelling such as resident, builder, occupier, host, guest, intruder, refugee, nomad, labor migrant, etc, still what can thresholds add to that anthropological knowledge if at all? By way of questioning the where, how, why, and when of thresholds, this dissertation attempts to describe those anthropological sites where hospitality (or the lack thereof) is turned into a problem of living space, where modes of dwelling have been effaced, degraded or replaced by phenomena such as upheavals, flows, dispersals, echoes at distance, refractions, and recurrences born out of concrete socio-historical events. In the vast territorial events spanning from the cold-war Iran to Stalinist Central Asia and to Post-war Tajikistan, socio-historical quagmires darkened by the double absence of epistemological clarity and spatial orientation, hospitality reveals a different dimensionality of knowledge/life, one less guaranteed in the embodied extensions of habitus and more promised in the ensouled spatium of threshold. In this sense, thresholds as well as this dissertation celebrate the anthropological possibility of that second dimension, the originary re-beginning, the being-for of a living space to come.

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