Skip to Content

Ecological (In)hospitality in the 20th and 21st century

«Back To Seminars

Organizer: Alberto Tondello

Contact the Seminar Organizers

Ambiguous and paradoxical, the concept of hospitality has been extensively explored in its social, political, and ethical dimensions. In his cycle of seminars on hospitality (1995-97), Jacques Derrida reconstructs hospitality’s conceptual history, highlights its complexities and contradictions, and underlines the imbrication between hospitality and hostility. Building on Derrida’s reflections, works such as Rosello’s Postcolonial Hospitality: The Immigrant as Guest (2001), McNulty’s The Hostess: Hospitality, Femininity, and the Expropriation of Identity (2006), and Baker’s Hospitality and World Politics (2013) have considered the global, transnational, and gender aspects of hospitality.

In her work, McNulty points out that ‘every ethics is fundamentally an ethics of hospitality, since the original meaning of ethos is ‘abode’ or ‘dwelling place’’. Considering a dwelling place in the broader possible terms, the seminar takes this insight as a starting point to explore the ecological dimension of hospitality. Defined as the interaction between living organism and their environment, the concept of ecology – discourse on a dwelling place – is intimately tied to the paradigm of hospitality. An ecocritical approach to hospitality has the potential to move the concept beyond the human and the domestic spheres to include broader natural environments and nonhuman entities. It can complicate some of the tenets of the act of hospitality (i.e the presumed sovereignty and mastery of the host, the expected possession of a place from which to offer hospitality). To reconsider hospitality from an ecocritical stance implies reassessing hospitality in terms of vulnerability and openness, permeability, and mutual dependency, thus rethinking the roles and categories of host/guest/stranger/alien. It means paying closer attention to the role that the broader environment – climate, atmosphere – plays in the act of hospitality.

The seminar proposes to build on these reflections to explore the ecological dimension of hospitality in 20th and 21stcentury literary, philosophical, and critical texts. It encourages paper that explore the fine line between hospitality and inhospitality. What are the implications of ecological (in)hospitality? How do social, cultural, and natural factors interact in the creation of (in)hospitable environments? How might the vulnerability, otherness, and hostility entailed in (in)hospitality positively reshape a subject’s attitude to their surroundings? How do authors use language experimentation to depict (in)hospitable conditions and to reflect the challenging porousness between subjects and environments?

Possible topics include:
(In)hospitable exchanges between human and nonhuman
Gender and racial dimension of (in)hospitality
Affect in the conceptualisation of (in)hospitality
(In)hospitality as receptivity/attunement
Regulations and transgressions of hospitality
(In)hospitality in modernist and contemporary texts

«Back To Seminars