DATE: Thursday, 9th August
TIME: 5.30 for 6.00 PM
VENUE: UTS Building 10 (235 Jones Street, Ultimo), Level 6, Room 440
Dr David Bell, School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK
Hospitality and the City
The concept and practices of hospitality have generated considerable cross-disciplinary interest in recent years, enlivened by interventions from a broad range of perspectives which have used hospitality as a 'social lens'. These studies have also looked closely at hospitality as a doing, a set of practices or performances -- whether in formal, commercial settings (the 'hospitality industry') or in the everyday encounters of ordinary life. In this talk, I will explore three key ways in which hospitality practices have been framed in an urban context: sites for doing hospitality in cities. First, I will discuss the role of formal, commercial hospitality spaces -- bars, cafes, hotels, restaurants -- in producing forms of sociality and conviviality. While these settings have been critiqued for 'instrumentalizing' hospitality, I will argue that they are nevertheless playing a vital role in changing the culture of cities. Moreover, these hospitality spaces are being used in reimaginings of urban life and in attempts to regenerate city centres. Second, I will focus on the role of food and eating, especially eating together, as a practice used to promote community cohesion and 'social regeneration'. In particular I will discuss how community arts groups seek to use food and eating as a way to draw different groups of people together, and thereby explore the idealization of urban commensality as productive 'social work'. Last, I will think about the 'throwntogetherness' of city life, and how informal, intersubjective interaction -- what I have called 'moments' of hospitality -- are equally important, if often fleeting and elusive, components of the hospitable city. Despite critiques of modern urban life as alienated, hurried, ill-mannered and unwelcoming, I will argue that we can see in these moments at least the possibility of hospitality as an ethics of social relations.