“It’s important to be good”: Anthropological reflection on linguistic dynamics and hospitality

  • Roberta Clara Zanini Università di Torino, Italy


This article proposes an ethnographic and anthropological reflection conducted in the context of a sociolinguistic investigation of the linguistic dynamics between locals and asylum seekers in the Aosta Valley. The analysis of language practices involving migrants and local actors offers a series of elements that prove useful, in addition to those deriving from ethnographic observation, in clarifying the relationship between practices and rhetorics of hospitality. Investigating the linguistic dynamics, in fact, allowed to bring out opaqueness, ambiguity and contradictory and ambivalent rhetoric in the narratives of those involved, with varied positions and roles, in the hospitality process. On the one hand, we will highlight a paternalistic language based on an asymmetrical logic of expectations that structures the relationship between different figures, even in a positive context of widespread hospitality. Furthermore, we will focus on how the hospitality system, that structurally relies on voluntary activities, acts through rhetoric and practices of discharging of responsibilities on the individual level, being it represented by a migrant who must demonstrate autonomy, or a volunteer, to whom it is often delegated the difficult task of accompanying the path of integration.

How to Cite
Zanini, R. (2020) “‘It’s important to be good’: Anthropological reflection on linguistic dynamics and hospitality”, Anuac, 9(2), pp. 71-95. doi: 10.7340/anuac2239-625X-4141.