Course Hospitality, Listening, and Dialogue

ECTS: 1.5

Course leader: Claudia Welz

Language: English

Graduate school: Faculty of Arts

Course fee: 0.00 DKK

Status: Course is finished

Semester: Spring 2023

Application deadline: 01/04/2023

Cancellation deadline: 01/04/2023

Course type: Blended learning

Start date: 09/05/2023

Administrator: Henriette Jaquet


All students are placed on a waiting list until we reach application deadline.

In the recent upsurge in forced migration across international borders and the increasing anti-immigration sentiment in Europe and beyond, the question of who or what a stranger is has not always been translated into recognition for this ‘other.’ In view of this attitude, which is prevalent in pluralistic, multicultural, globalized democracies, it is becoming ever more urgent to gain an in-depth understanding of the origins and meaning of ‘hospitality’ as a key concept and practice. In this PhD course and conference, we will explore religious, literary, artistic, theological, philosophical, ethical, legal, and political sources and resources, and we will discuss diverse approaches to hospitality.

Scholarly attention to the notion of hospitality has to a great extent been wielded by political discourses about the ‘integration’ of immigrants and refugees crossing national borders. However, the notion of hospitality has a long history. Hospitality was initially a sacred tradition and ultimately – since Immanuel Kant’s political proposal in Perpetual Peace (1795) where “hospitality means the right of the stranger not to be treated with hostility when he arrives on someone else’s territory” – an exemplary way in which Europe has identified its own humanitarian ethos. Currently, however, hospitality (or rather, the lack of hospitality) has come to test the hallmarks of Europe’s self-acclaimed hospitality culture.

The present course and conference will focus on the question of how it is possible to orient oneself in border settings where hospitality and one’s own personal or group identity are challenged to the point that one no longer feels ‘at home,’ and where attempts of establishing and/or maintaining an intercultural and interreligious dialogue depending on verbal language reach a critical limit. May practices of ‘hospitable listening’ and (more or less) silent gestures of hospitality like, for instance, serving a meal or offering a place to rest and, a fortiori, coordinated politics of hospitality vis-à-vis refugees help us transcend the limits of dialogue, and if so, how? The connection between hospitality, listening, and dialogue will be explored in an interdisciplinary setting.

We invite PhD papers. If you are interested, please submit an abstract (around 250-300 words) by March 1, 2023.


The aim of this course is to provide

  1. an overview of different approaches to hospitality in various traditions of thought
  2. an introduction to questions related to hospitality (e.g. the relation between hospitality, listening, and dialogue; the tension between conditional and unconditional hospitality; role reversals between the guest and the host; the understanding of ‘the other’ or ‘stranger’; phenomenologies of crossing a threshold, border, or limit; an evaluation of various immigration policies; the status of displaced and stateless people; the granting of asylum and establishment of sanctuary cities)
  3. a critical discussion of how hospitality has been defined in different disciplines and practiced in different contexts.


  • Biblical texts: Gen 18; Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9, etc.
  • Immanuel Kant, extracts from Toward Perpetual Peace
  • Emmanuel Levinas, extracts from Totality and Infinity, Beyond the Verse (“Politics After!” and “Cities of Refuge”), Otherwise than Being
  • Jacques Derrida, extracts from Of Hospitality and Hostipitality (I+II).

Target group:

This course and conference will target PhD students and postdoctoral research fellows, as well as colleagues interested in the course theme.


  • Keynote lectures and presentation of PhD papers (perhaps also a postdoctoral paper)
  • Workshop format: discussion of work in progress
  • Reading sessions in which classical texts will be discussed


1,5 ECTS for preparation and participation without paper

2,5 ECTS for attending the course and presenting a paper


Confirmed speakers so far:

  • Paul Mendes-Flohr, Hebrew University of Jerusalem & University of Chicago 
  • Claudia Welz, Aarhus University
  • Johannes Nissen, Aarhus University

Sign up separately for the following parts of the course and conference program on May 10, 2023:

  • - 13:00-15:00 Open seminar on "Hospitality, Listening, and Dialogue
  • - 15:45-17:00 Guided tour through the Royal Libray’s Book Tower ( 25 persons!) and piano concert
  • - 17:00-18:00 Reception in the library garden

Course dates:

  • 09 May 2023 09:00 - 16:00
  • 10 May 2023 09:00 - 12:00