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Why you should leave the door open to strangers, with Will Buckingham


Will Buckingham gave me my new favourite word. He's a philosopher so it's only right the word should be Greek. Philoxenia is the word. Love of the foreign. It's that sense of curiosity, desire to connect and good will that make us seek out those we don't know and invite them to share our hearth. It's the cat that runs up to a house guest to smell his hand and rub against new legs. But we fear the stranger too as much as we wish for him. The cat hisses, scratches and hides under the sofa. You know that word – xenophobia.

Will Buckingham explores what the stranger means to us and why philoxenia is worth cultivating. In this episode:
🤝 home is a social network
💪 stranger danger is male danger
🏡 safety at home, danger abroad is a false story
👀 how busy-buddy neighbours keep us safe
👥 sorry introverts: you'll never be rid of strangers
Also backpacking in Pakistan, slow Ubers in Bangalore, Manggarai villages in Indonesia, a vicarage in Norfolk, a foggy morning in Prague, a Lithuanian philosopher called Emmanuel Levinas and paper-thin walls in Paris.

Show notes

[00:02:38] "You can think about home as a set of social network of belongings"
[00:08:48] "I'll never again be lost in a foreign city"
[00:11:49] "A split between the safety of the home and the risk of the outside"[
00:15:15] Philoxenia vs xenophobia
[00:18:31] "That notion of the inviolable home is quite culturally specific"
[00:22:25] "Somebody would end up putting me up"
[00:24:35] "There's always going to be somebody rocking up to break up your solitude"
[00:28:39] Become a Borderline member
[00:29:57] "Concentric circles of how we imagine belonging"
[00:31:41] "The stranger brings me more than I can contain"
[00:32:57] "An inconvenience worth having"
[00:34:57] "Fear in the face of strangers is not wholly unreasonable"
[00:39:50] Outro

📚 Hello, Stranger: How We Find Connection in a Disconnected World, by Will Buckingham. Granta. 2021. Buy it here.
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