The Hospitality Project


Principal Investigator: Naomi Millner
Co-investigators: Emily Cuming; Alison Jeffers
Collaborators: Dignity for Asylum-Seekers, Bristol; Bristol Hospitality Network; Barton Hill Walled Garden

Duration: From 2015 to 2016

The Hospitality Project is an arts-based research collaboration between three universities (Bristol, Manchester, Leeds) and three Bristol-based community partners (Dignity for Asylum-Seekers, the Bristol Hospitality Network, and Barton Hill Walled Garden Project). Taking as our starting point the idea that hospitality is a complicated power relation, we are on a collaborative journey to explore how it can be most effectively practised in order to establish meaningful connections between diverse cultural communities. Along the way, we aim to explore how hospitality practices (such as sharing food, space and conversation) can also support wellbeing within precarious and difficult situations – especially those related to the experience of seeking asylum or moving home.


To meet our aims, we are running a series of workshops across Spring and Summer 2015 that take up and explore different themes of hospitality. Each workshop is a collaboration between the different organisations and their members, facilitated by an arts-based practitioner. In particular, we are working with Rhiannon White, a performance practitioner associated with Common Wealth Theatre who has worked extensively with refugee communities, and Deborah Aguirre Jones, an artist who works principally around themes of territory, home, and belonging. In September 2015, the Hospitality Project will embark on a weekend away called ‘the Feast’ where we reflect on our experiences of the year to date.


The second half of the project will lead toward the production of a booklet that will be disseminated at the beginning of the next year. The booklet will centre on the production of ‘hospitality objects’ through the workshops, and in a set of making sessions taking place throughout Autumn 2015. Without ‘representing’ experiences of hospitality, these objects are the creative results of conversations about, and journeys with hospitality. Members of the three collaborating organisations and their academic partners will individually tell the stories of these objects, sometimes drawing on their own personal stories and experiences.


The Hospitality Project is thus above all an experiment in ‘co-production’ – in making knowledge and knowledge outputs through relationships of collaboration. Yet, through our shared interest in creating knowledge about hospitality, we want to make clear that the activities of co-production are themselves laden with complicated power relations. Our interest and end-goal is to make these power relations more visible and transformable. We hope that the booklet and understandings produced through this project will be testimony to the many forms of expertise and cultures of practice that are being brought together daily within everyday sites of hospitality and encounter.