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Law and the Stranger$
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Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merrill Umphrey

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780804771542

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804771542.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Necessary Strangers: Law's Hospitality in the Age of Transnational Migrancy

Necessary Strangers: Law's Hospitality in the Age of Transnational Migrancy

(p.21) Necessary Strangers: Law's Hospitality in the Age of Transnational Migrancy
Law and the Stranger

Pheng Cheah

Stanford University Press

This chapter examines how global capitalism and the circulation of workers across borders give rise to so-called “necessary strangers.” It offers a critique of Immanuel Kant's ideas on neighborliness and hospitality, including his argument that conditional hospitality flows from sovereignty and nation states. Kant also claims that the relation between law and stranger is governed by a dynamic of attraction and repulsion that can be overcome only by the unconditional hospitality created by commerce and international trade. The chapter challenges Kant's arguments with two examples that show how contemporary globalization intensifies rather than ameliorates the tension in law between the attraction and repulsion of the stranger. The first example deals with the legal construction of female migrant domestic workers in Southeast Singapore, while the second focuses on sex workers migrating from mainland China to Hong Kong. The chapter illustrates the role of law in global capitalism's modalities of inclusion and exclusion, and specifically how global capitalism has turned low-status workers such as domestic and sex workers into permanent strangers.

Keywords:   necessary strangers, capitalism, Immanuel Kant, neighborliness, hospitality, law, commerce, Singapore, China, low-status workers

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