Hospitality and Solidarity:
Feminist Philosophy in Thought, History and Action

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.

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).

A study circle at NSU is a three-year project. Circle proposals are democratically elected during the General Assembly where members and participants of the Nordic Summer University meet.

Read the full circle proposal here.