Home is Where the Human is? Ethics, Intervention and Hospitality in Kosovo

The human is frequently made central to the way international ethics is thought and practised. Yet, the human can be used to close down ethical options rather than open them up. This article examines the case of British foreign policy in Kosovo. It argues that the human in this context was placed at the centre of ethical action, but was discursively constructed as a silent, biopolitial mass which could only be saved close to its territorially qualified home. It could not be protected by being brought to the UK. To remain human, the subject of ethical concern, the Kosovan refugee, had to remain near Kosovo. This construction of the human—home relationship meant that military humanitarian intervention became the only ethical policy available; hospitality, a welcoming of the Kosovan refugee into the British home, was ruled out. This article questions such a construction of the human, listening to the voices of Kosovan refugees to open up the relationship between the human and its home. The complexity that results shows that a more nuanced view of the human would not allow itself to be co-opted so easily to a simplistic logic of intervention. Rather, it could enable the possibility of hospitality as another way of practising international ethics.