Fataneh Farahani. Foto: Markus Marcetic/Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien
Fataneh Farahani. Foto: Markus Marcetic/Knut och Alice Wallenbergs Stiftelse/Kungl. Vetenskapsakademien


People flee from war, poverty, political persecution and climate changes. Global migration faces us with national and global challenges and existential crisis. Is it a country’s moral responsibility to welcome refugees? What ideological, political and social functions does hospitality fulfil? Who qualifies for acceptance as a citizen and who is disclaimed a non-citizen? How is hospitality shaped by gender, age, ethnicity and class? These are some of the questions Fataneh Farahani addresses in her study that places migration in a larger context. 

Relation of power between host and guest

“The formal and informal demands on how a guest is supposed to behave are always present in the debates about integration. Hospitality includes a relation of power between host and guest. In an era of increased migration ‘welcoming’ someone into one’s home does not necessarily destabilize one’s privilege, it can also manifest it”, says Fataneh Farahani, Associate professor at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies at Stockholm University.

“The conditions of hospitality necessitate some limits beyond which the other cannot trespass. However, the risk of transgressing into a grey zone is always present and one can ‘easily’ turn into an inhospitable host. The tenuous connections between ‘hospitality’ and ‘hostility’ can also nurture exclusion and stigmatisation”, she continues.

Through field research on different civil society organizations which support immigrants and asylum seekers, Fataneh Farahani aims to analyse how the organisations’ practices of hospitality relate to broader national discourses. Some points of entry in all the three research sites will be the churches and clergy, as well as organizations such as “No person is illegal”.  


As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Fataneh Farahani wants to establish a Resource Centre for Displacement and Hospitality. This centre will connect researchers from various fields of knowledge, together with dissemination to various channels. 

“The project is important both scientifically and socially. The political landscape is slow moving but changeable, as we have seen in the recent reports from the refugee crisis. It is essential to follow and investigate the social processes of change going on at the moment”, says Fataneh Farahani.

About Wallenberg Academy Fellows:

Wallenberg Academy Fellows is a program to support some of Sweden’s – and the world’s – most promising young researchers within medicine, natural sciences, engineering sciences, humanities and social science. The five year grant gives the most promising young researchers a work situation that enables them to focus on their projects and address difficult research questions. Of the 29 new Wallenberg Academy Fellows 2015, three will conduct their research at Stockholm University.

More about Fataneh Farahani's research.