Between hosts and guests: Conditional hospitality and citizenship in an American suburban school

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This article utilizes the idea of hospitality to explore how educative practices contribute to the making of citizens at Light Falls High School (LHS), a suburban American secondary school that professes a strong commitment to racial equity and global awareness. The data are derived from an ethnographic case study which took place in 2013–2014. I primarily draw upon the classroom experiences and narratives of transnational youth–those with social lives, cultural practices, and notions of self that are not bounded by one nation–and several educators to tell the story of hospitality at LHS. Three techniques emerged by which conditional hospitality shaped the possibilities of welcome and recognition of transnational students–questioning attachment, conditioning speech, and conditioning space–and these in turn constitute normative thresholds that fix these students in difference, delimit their belonging, and constrain their possibilities of membership. The gift of welcome meant to make non-normative students feel welcome often comes with caveats that uphold narratives of benevolence and superiority of the United States as an exceptional nation, affirm the notion of White indigeneity, and allow for mitigation in acknowledging structural racism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-114
Number of pages20
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.


  • Multicultural/diversity education
  • socio-political conditions
  • student and teacher experiences


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