Anthropocene Hospitality: belonging in/to a changing climate

Macquarie University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
SCAN, 2014, 11 (1), pp. 1 - 5
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
In Of Hospitality, Derrida writes that the western legacy of hospitality, incorporating Judeo-Christianity, Pauline Cosmopolitanism and Greco-Roman traditions, ties it in various ways to an ethical concern: “It is always about answering for a dwelling place, for one’s identity, one’s space, one’s limits, for the ethos as abode, habitation, house, hearth, family, home” (2000, 149/151). Taking my cue from this, I situate my analysis within emerging debates around climate change. How do we answer for a dwelling place in the context of climate change? Because an answer can be a defence, a gesture toward dialogue, be packaged as a solution or a point of closure or, alternatively, incite responsibility, we need to first think through the sorts of questions posed by this issue. For instance, does global climate change alter the dynamics of belonging to the nation-state, and what potential impact does this have on our understanding of relations between host and guest, self and other, nature and culture, citizen and non-citizen, and human and nonhuman? In this paper, my interest in the Anthropocene is what I see as its deconstructive potential. As I will demonstrate, the conceptual formulation of the Anthropocene presents us with an example of what Derrida refers to as autoimmunity. The autoimmunity of the Anthropocene opens up the possibility of extending our analysis to examine normative approaches to sustainability and social justice with their respective focus on responsibility as stewardship and commitment to human rights in the context of climate change. The Anthropocene as autoimmune calls these approaches into question by exposing the assumptions of human-centricity which underpin them. I will argue that this demands that we reconsider the relationship of the human to the more-than-human and consider an ethics and politic which takes account of the inextricability of our enmeshment in the more-than-human world. Hospitality is a useful way to frame this intervention, with its attention to dwelling and movement, as well as the politics and ethics of being both in and out of place. By drawing on Derrida’s work on hospitality I aim, in my larger works, to engage with the aporia of hospitality, the difficulties of decision-making, the contingency of policy platforms and the insistent and varied violence of dwelling and movement in a more-thanhuman world. This paper sets out the introductory theoretical parameters for these future engagements and raises some initial concerns
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