Of Hospitality

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Rachid Ouramdane, Anne-Gaëlle Saliot, Felwine Sarr, "On Hospitality and Gesture" (March 31, 2021)

At its most basic level, hospitality is what occurs when there is contact with an Other and gestures are shared. Jacques Derrida famously argued that it is always underpinned by mastery and hostility, thus coining the term “hostipitality.” Our daily gestures can become machinic, atrophied, even hostile, and expressions of this “hostipitality.”

There is a constitutive paradox to the aesthetic gestures of dance: dance overrides linguistic barriers and is based on what is the most widely shared, the human body; yet these gestures are encoded, in the most sensitive manner, with the weight of social practices, political experiences, and collective histories, to the point that they are at times perceived as cultural metonymies. The increasing globalization of our kinetic forms of knowledge leads us to question the “universel singulier” expressed in our gestures. How can dance create both affective and critical gestures (what Yves Citton calls “gestures of humanity”) that enable practical and sensorial forms of hospitality? How can choreography, as the art of writing gestures and bodily mobility, help us conceive and enact proper forms of “rapprochement”?

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is a Belgian-Moroccan dancer, choreographer, and director. He has made over 50 choreographic pieces and received two Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production, three Ballet Tanz awards for best choreographer (2008, 2011, 2017) and the KAIROS Prize (2009). In 2010 he founded his own company, Eastman. Since 2015, he has served as the artistic director at the Royal Ballet of Flanders. He is also an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells, London, and Théâtre National de Bretagne, Rennes.  

Rachid Ouramdane is a French dancer, choreographer, and director. He has been associate artist at  Theâtre de la ville in Paris, and co-director of the CCN2-Centre Chorégraphique National de Grenoble in France. He is the new Director of Théâtre Chaillot (Paris). He is regularly invited to work on collaborations in places such as the Lyon Opera Ballet and the Russian company Migrazia. His work is based on a meticulous collection of evidence, in collaboration with filmmakers or authors. Through the art of dance, he aims to contribute to social debates such as hospitality given to vulnerable populations.

Anne-Gaëlle Saliot is Associate Professor of Romance Studies and Core Faculty of Cinematic Arts in the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University. Her research explores translations and migrations of cultural objects across epochs, and across geographical and linguistic frontiers. Her work encompasses literature, theories of the visual, film studies, and dance. She is the author of The Drowned Muse (Oxford University Press, 2015) and the co-editor of the Cahiers de la NRF dedicated to Philippe Forest.

Felwine Sarr is a Senegalese scholar and writer. He is the Anne-Marie Bryan Distinguished Professor of Romance Studies at Duke University, having arrived at Duke from the Université Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis in Senegal. His academic work focuses on the ecology of knowledge, contemporary African philosophy, epistemology, economics, and the history of religious ideas. He recently published Restituer le patrimoine Africain (Philippe Rey/Seuil) with Benedicte Savoy and La Saveur des derniers mètres (Philippe Rey 2020). 


Robert Barsky, "Clamouring for Legal Protection. What the Great Books Teach us about People Fleeing from Persecution" (November 9, 2021)

Clamouring for Legal Protection. What the Great Books Teach us about People Fleeing from Persecution. In this novel approach to law and literature, Robert Barsky delves into the canon of so-called Great Books, and discovers that many beloved characters therein encounter obstacles similar to those faced by contemporary refugees and undocumented persons. The struggles of Odysseus, Moses, Aeneas, Dante, Satan, Dracula and Alice in Wonderland, among many others, provide surprising insights into current discussions about those who have left untenable situations in their home countries in search of legal protection. Law students, lawyers, social scientists, literary scholars and general readers who are interested in learning about international refugee law and immigration regulations in home and host countries will find herein a plethora of details about border crossings, including those undertaken to flee pandemics, civil unrest, racism, intolerance, war, forced marriage, or limited opportunities in their home countries.

Robert Barsky works at the intersection of humanities and law, with a focus on border crossings. He is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (Law, Narrative and Border Crossing 19-20). Barsky is a Professor of Humanities and a jointly appointed Faculty Member in the Law School at Vanderbilt University. In his newest book, Clamouring for Legal Protection (Hart Publishing/Bloomsbury Press, 2021), written while he was a Rockefeller Resident Fellow at the Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Barsky suggests that many stories in the Western Tradition deemed to have enduring value offer insights into current discussions about the flight and plight of vulnerable migrants. He is also working on an edition of the travaux préparatoires to the 1967 Refugee Protocol, negotiated in 1965, a project funded in part by the SSHRC Insight Grant Program, and a series of related articles and blogs. Barsky is the author or editor of numerous books on narrative and law, including Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law: The Flight and Plight of Peoples’ Deemed ‘Illegal’ (2016); Arguing and Justifying: Assessing the Convention Refugees’ Choice of Moment, Motive and Host Country (2000); and Constructing a Productive Other: Discourse Theory and the Convention Refugee Hearing (1994). He is the founding editor of the international open access border-crossing journal AmeriQuests, and he recently started a new journal on art and border crossing, Contours Collaborations, in collaboration with MIT’s Knowledge Futures Group.


Fabienne Brugère and Guillaume Le Blanc, " Curating Hospitality: A Sensorial Perception of Vulnerability" (November 12, 2021)

Curating Hospitality.” In this talk, Brugère and Le Blanc reflect on the tensions between art, politics and philosophy focusing on migrants and refugees. They will examine the recent art exhibition, "Persona Grata," that they developed from their book, The End of Hospitality (Flammarion 2017). Organized at the National Museum of the History of Immigration in Paris, the exhibition was conceived to frame a conflict between two concepts of hospitality: it is both a broad ethical gesture to welcome others, and a political right that governments are increasingly unable to uphold with more fenced borders around the globe. How do contemporary art forms become an essential link in the ongoing struggle between ethics and politics?

Fabienne Brugère is Professor of Philosophy at the University Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, the President of Paris Lumières University, and a member of the editorial board of the Journal Esprit. She has published many books: Le sexe de la sollicitude, Seuil, 2008; L’éthique du care, PUF, 2011; La politique de l’individu, Seuil, 2013, with Guillaume le Blanc, La fin de l’hospitalité, Flammarion, 2017 and in 2019 On ne naît pas femme, on le devient, Stock and Care Ethics. The Introduction of Care as a Political Category, Peeters.

Guillaume Le Blanc is Professor of Philosophy at University of Paris since 2018. He is specialized in 20th century French philosophy (in relation with Continental philosophy), Critical Theory, social and political philosophy. His main publications include Vaincre nos peurs tendre la main (Flammarion, 2018) La fin de l’hospitalité (written with Fabienne Brugère, Flammarion, 2017), L’insurrection des vies minuscules (Bayard, 2014), La philosophie comme contre-culture (PUF, 2014), Que faire de notre vulnérabilité ? He was editor of the series Pratiques Théoriques (PUF 2009-2018) and is now co-editor of the series Diagnostics (Bord de l’Eau). He has been serving on the editorial board of the Journal Esprit since 1999.