This circle is born out of the success and the strengths of the previous study circle Feminist Philosophy; Time, history and the Transformation of Thought (2017-2019) and is taking up a new interdisciplinary topic that is present in contemporary philosophy, politics, and theology as well as feminist theory: the topic of hospitality and solidarity. Exploring the different themes of our symposia, feminism will allow us to create unexpected connections, experimental interventions and rethink the themes anew.

About the study circle

Hospitality refers to an specific action, a way of dealing with a stranger: a warm and open welcoming as a guest. For women, “guest” does not necessarily translate into the subject of authentic hospitality, as the host often has ulterior motives reflecting power differentials and
social-role constraints. Feminist theorists are therefore ambivalent about hospitality, given these asymmetrical and inconsistent gender responsibilities. Hospitality deals with the present concerns about immigration, poses questions about the violence inherent in compassion and concerns itself with the status of the multicultural project. Underlying these issues on hospitality are several questions that form the central theme of this circle:

  1. Political/Ethical: What is the position of the othered other, the alien, the stranger that I
    cannot know? What does hospitality and solidarity look like in an intersectional, systematic
    perspective? How to act in solidarity with the world facing climate change? When is
    hospitality problematic?
  2. Theological/Ethical: What are the theological traditions around hospitality and what role
    does hospitality play in the secularized Nordic and Baltic region? How does secularized
    hospitality relate to gender inequality?
  3. Philosophical/ontological: What role does ontology have for understanding hospitality, and
    should one look for resources beyond humanism? Can we approach the other through
    methods of hospitality, or is hospitality confirming the otherness and reinforcing the
    systematic epistemic preference of the self, as suggested by thinkers such as Derrida,
    Dufourmantelle, Irigaray, Lloyd, and Ettinger?
  4. Feminist theory and practice: What does hospitality and solidarity look like when we
    acknowledge the privilege of gender, race and education?
  5. Education and institutions: What does hospitality look like in education, as we understand
    the transformation of the self as the core goal of education, and the role of the radical other
    fundamental to approaching this transformation? What strategies of learning are
    hospitable?

Our initiative is transdisciplinary in scope. We take our methodological point of departure from feminist philosopher Rosi Braidotti, who in Nomadic Subjects (1994), defines the feminist theoretician as being in “‘in transit”, moving on, passing through, creating connections where things were previously disconnected or seemed unrelated, where there seemed to be ‘nothing to see’. “‘Trans-disciplinary’ implies the effort to move on to the invention of new ways of relating, of building footbridges between notions. (Braidotti 1994: 177).

Symposium 1: 5-8 March 2020

Feminist philosophy:
Religious & critical perspectives on secularized hospitality

Åbo Akademi University (Turku, Swedish speaking Finland) & Donner Institute for research in Religious & Cultural history (https://www.donnerinstitute.fi/symposier-rundabord/) (Turku, Finland)

What does hospitality look like in a secularized world? The theme for this symposia is feminist philosophy in dialogue with religion and critical perspectives on secularization. Recent studies (Scott 2017) show that there is a much closer relationship between increased gender inequality and the rise of secularism, than earlier thought of. Is it possible for bodies to negotiate between religion and secularization when the “feminine body” has been posed as a spiritual and a-rational body? In line with Mahmood (2004) we want to open up the discussions of what kind of freedom, equality and solidarity it is that Western feminist philosophy has to offer. Many religions and philosophical worldviews seem to uphold the concept of hospitality as a core value in their thinking, but are there also differences in what is meant and how this solidarity with the ‘other’ takes concrete form? Are such differences regarding the view of hospitality and solidarity to be anchored in religion, or are they more dependent on specific historical circumstances? How can these differences be understood in a feminist philosophical perspective?

In this winter symposia we will be cooperating with the Donner Institute who will fund the journal publication and provide funding for keynotes, travel and honorarium. Åbo Akademi University who will provide venues. Selected papers from the conference will be published in Approaching Religion. (https://journal.fi/ar, confirmed, autumn 2020)

CFP will follow.