The Digital Future of Hospitality

Lindsay Balfour

The Digital Future of Hospitality (2023) asks how an unconditional welcome to strangers is both challenged and made possible by new digital technologies, machine learning, and human-computer interaction (HCI). It argues that the digital – the advancement of data, the proliferation of machines (embodied or not) in our homes and on our screens, and the millions of lines of code that organize and predict our lives – is not the absence of hospitality but rather the beginning, though not without its challenges. While such an ethic remains more important than ever, The Digital Future of Hospitality updates this enduring philosophical imperative for digital times. Through the lens of cultural studies, intersectional feminism, and posthumanism, this book reanimates hospitality in relation to a series of digital texts that are relevant to the twenty-first century and beyond – android figures on television, virtual domestic assistants, home- and ride-sharing apps, wearable devices, and a renewed cultural obsession with viruses and immunity.

“In a ghostly world, with spectre-visitors on digital doorsteps, this book offers a fascinating entry point to diverse cultural modalities for digital hospitality.” (Paul Crawford, Professor of Health Humanities at the University of Nottingham and lead author of Florence Nightingale at Home (Palgrave, 2020)).

“Lindsay Balfour engages one of the most pressing challenges of our age – how to understand the digital paradox of experiencing strangers as present in their absence. This new phenomenon of uncanny spectrality will be the doing or undoing of our contemporary world. An important and timely book, lucidly written and passionately argued.” (Professor Richard Kearney, Charles B. Seelig Chair of Philosophy at Boston College, USA)

“Whether as fact or fantasy, the rhetoric of the digital world is riddled with invocations of hospitality, but to what ends and with what effects? What happens when a traditionally humanist concept incorporates or adapts itself to what some call the posthuman? What kind of home is the homepage, what shelter is provided by airbnb? Is the hacker friend or enemy? How much of FemTech is still just Tech, producing old gender stereotypes packaged into a brave new world? What is truly strange and what familiar in the digital domestic? Balfour casts a welcome critical eye upon the world coming and still to come, and on the language we have to describe it.” (Professor David Simpson, Distinguished Professor and G.B. Needham Chair Emeritus at the University of California Davis, USA)

cover of The Digital Future of Hospitality


Palgrave Macmillan, 2023





To top