Subaltern Cosmopolitanism: The Question of Hospitality in Christos Tsiolkas’ Dead Europe

Jessica Lane Stasko Brooks

Abstract


Christos Tsiolkas’ novel Dead Europe (2005) moves beyond the local to discuss the effects of a globalised neo-imperialism and its implications for Australia. Tsiolkas uses a number of spectral metaphors to emphasise the dehumanisation that is the underside of capitalism and to imply that our present is haunted not only by the injustices of a traumatic historical past but also by the injustice that is to come as a result of today’s aggressive neo-imperialisms. As many have recognised, the novel explores a ‘subaltern’ cosmopolitanism of the marginalised and oppressed. Tsiolkas explores the fact that such subaltern cosmopolitanisms reconfigure our experience of alterity under capitalist globalization, in a manner that necessitates a radical reconsideration of our contemporary ethics. As a result the novel raises many ethical questions regarding the global mistreatment of the migrant and asylum seeker. Read through the lens of Derrida’s later political interrogations, we find that Dead Europe considers the ethics of hospitality—what it means to welcome and receive the ‘other’—and explores the economic violence and racial and religious intolerance that is so often behind violations of hospitality. Key to the novel’s exploration of these issues is Tsiolkas’ use of the spectral metaphor of the dead Jewish boy, Elias, who acts as a symbol for the cultural, political, and economic forces that lead to violations of hospitality.

Keywords


Tsiolkas, Dead Europe, Cosmopolitanism, Hospitality, Derrida, globalisation

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