Recent criticisms of regionalization and urbanization in the Anthropocene have argued that actors are increasingly producing uninhabitable spaces, in which oppressed and marginalized groups are either left to die or forced into a rootless existence of constant displacement. Through an examination of the cultural politics of current discussions of uninhabitability in the Anthropocene, this article argues against the logic of un/inhabitability—demonstrating its necessity to imagine itself against a subhuman other that was embodied, at least in Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in the anti-Semitic representation of Jews—and proposes that the conceptual framework of in/hospitability can be substituted in a way that both maintains the logic of un/inhabitability’s beneficial aspects—its illumination of the inequitable distribution of environmental harms in the Anthropocene and of the relationship between cultural formations and dwelling—and abandons its problematic underpinnings. In this way, the embrace of in/hospitability recommends not a rejection of the logic of un/inhabitability but its development through productive critique.
Hospitality; or, A Critique of Un/Inhabitability
Maxwell Woods is a member of the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Department of Literature at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Viña del Mar, Chile. His work focuses on the overlap of urban design, environmental justice, and comparative literature with a particular interest in the relationship between poetry, modern architecture, and decolonial environmental urbanism in Latin America.
Maxwell Woods; Hospitality; or, A Critique of Un/Inhabitability. Cultural Politics 1 July 2019; 15 (2): 202–222. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-7515056
Download citation file: