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Cosmopolitics of Hospitality



Anne-Marie Bryan Distinguished Professor of Romance Studies

Respondent: Professor Achille Mbembe

Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of the Witwatersrand

For a Cosmopolitics of Hospitality / Cosmopolitique de l'hospitalité 

Hospitality, the receiving of a newcomer who is initially a stranger, has often been considered an obligation at the heart of basic interactions in human societies. Emmanuel Kant, by asserting that “every stranger has the right to not be treated as the enemy,” has turned the idea of hospitality into an ethical question. The question that Felwine Sarr explores, which is part of the project of creating a shared world, is how to shift from the ethical obligation of hospitality to a right to hospitality. It is a question of transitioning from hospitality as a favor to hospitality as a right, by establishing a pragmatic principle that would be part of a cosmopolitics of hospitality as a response to the impasses of migration policies of a world that inexorably experiences its cosmopolitan condition.  

Felwine Sarr is a Senegalese scholar and writer. He is the Anne-Marie Bryan Distinguished Professor of Romance Studies at Duke University in North Carolina, having arrived at Duke from the Université Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis in Senegal, where he is a tenured professor with an agrégation in economics. His academic work focuses on the ecology of knowledge, contemporary African philosophy, economic politics, epistemology, economic anthropology and the history of religious ideas. To date he has published Dahij (Gallimard 2009), 105 Rue Carnot (Mémoire d’Encrier 2011), Méditations Africaines (Mémoire d’Encrier 2012) Afrotopia (Philippe Rey 2016), Ishindenshin (Mémoire d’Encrier 2017), Habiter le Monde (Mémoire d’Encrier 2017), Ecrire l’Afrique-monde (collective publication co-directed with Achille Mbembé, Philippe Rey 2017), Restituer le patrimoine Africain (Philippe Rey/Seuil) with Benedicte Savoy et Politique des Temps (co-directed with Achille Mbembé, Philippe Rey 2019) and La Saveur des derniers mètres (Philippe Rey 2021).

The Series is sponsored by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. and the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Duke University.


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