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> (eng)Lectures > Hostages to Hospitality: The Case of Undercurrents

.: Hostages to Hospitality: The Case of Undercurrents :.

5/12/02- 6:30pm -1 x 60-
Even today, after so many decades of discussing it, those, who see ourselves as involved in 'practice' of art and politics, still negotiating value we are ready to give to 'theory', not to say 'philosophy'. Reverse is as well happening: those who think we are in 'high' theory, do not see our own exploitation of others' corporeal politics and radical philosophy. Love for each other's thought, this carnal passion for the complex and for wonder, has to be distinguished from academic conventions of theory, abstract conceptions of the other, and from jargon of smartness. We have to be able to face each other, even though why 'have'? We ARE facing each other, every day, whether we like it or not. Are we capable of remaining respectful and caring for each other's spaces and differences? Do we wonder about them, do we really want them? Do we really have a passion for the other, or we seek the same women as ourselves - both in our net and flesh communities, - how we prefer ourselves to be seen as?
The notion of hospitality, that I have been trying to work with so far, has been proposed by certain philosophers as essentially feminine, though having nothing to do with 'actual' women. I tried to put this to use and critical questioning in my recent net-art and theoretical work on Virtual Chora, as it seems notions like matrix have become associated with new technologies and abyss-like cyberspace. At the same time, it is crucial the notion of hospitality and its history have also been placed elsewhere than Christian tradition, at least by Levinas and Derrida, the main two philosophers of hospitality - they trace hospitality in the history of Jewish faith and history. So, one could say that hospitality is feminine and not Christian, at least, for key Western philosophers of the 20th century. Both of these assumptions are highly problematic, and border on all those assumptions that feminists have been trying to fight against, so far: seeing femininity as essentially hospitable and caring, and especially femininity of certain, racially distinguished, women. One does not need to guess that so-called 'oriental feminine' has been seen as one of examples of hospitality par excellence. I would try to think through those dangerous 'borders' risking being in the center of heated discussions regarding notions of race, cultural difference, cyberspace, new technologies and sexual difference. Heated discussions as they have happened in new media circles in the US, Western Europe and Australia, and on the recently established mailing list Undercurrents, devoted specifically to new media, race, post-colonial theory, gender and feminism.
At the end, I would try to outline what is at stake in the question of hospitality for our cultural, ethnic, geographical and sexual differences, and why it is so difficult for us to remain open (especially in new media communities), struggling with being hostages to 'feminine hospitality' all the while.
Irina Aristarkhova is Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore, University Scholars Programme & The School of Computing

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