Published on the occasion of the Liverpool Biennial 2012, this book addresses the theme of the exhibition: notions of hospitality. Hospitality is the welcome we extend to strangers, an attitude and a code of conduct, as well as a metaphor that encompasses issues of the body, territory, geopolitics, ecology, trade and the hosting of data. In this era of unprecedented movement of both people and knowledge, different cultures of hospitality jostle for space as never before. Where lies the threshold between host and guest, if there is one at all, and who has the power to decide? How does our view of hospitality change when seen through the lens of time? The ethics underlying these questions are shaped by traditions that date back to the classical world and the ancient cultures of central Asia and the Indian sub-continent. In more recent times, philosophers from Kant to Derrida have provided influential comment on the subject, establishing the terms of a discourse that now spans myriad disciplines, among them anthropology, sociology, economics, philosophy, theology, politics and art. Responding to this growing academic and cultural interest, The Unexpected Guest is the first publication to bring together an anthology of key historical and contemporary texts with new contributions by writers from a variety of fields, alongside artists’ responses commissioned especially for the book. Uniquely, it introduces time as a window onto hospitality, offering fresh perspectives and new thinking on the issue.