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Jesuit and Feminist Hospitality in Cosmopolitan Repair

By Patrick Bai

May 17, 2024

In Response to Towards a Cosmopolitanism of Repair

Ranjit Hoskote proposes a cosmopolitanism of repair that “summons up the possibility of a solidarity of the vulnerable” that “might provide us with some hope that we can still repair the world.” Drawing heavily from Kate Ward’s discussion of Jesuit and feminist hospitality, I intend to outline where the Jesuit tradition can contribute to this cosmopolitics that embraces the Other.

Hoskote’s cosmopolitics builds off “a declaration of our own vulnerability,” the “corresponding vulnerability and plurality” of others, and “a seeking of affinities” between the other and the self. Ward writes similarly of feminist hospitality situated in the Christian tradition, which is what Letty Russell describes as “the practice of God’s welcome by reaching across difference to participate in God’s actions bringing justice and healing to our world in crisis.”

Hospitality is practiced from a place of marginality and mutuality. Ward writes: “The emphasis on the marginality of host in hospitality relationships is reinforced throughout the Christian tradition… beginning with Jesus’ own marginality.” This emphasis of marginality is opposed to the constituency of neo-tribalism, who Hoskote contends uses their resentment at their economic exclusion to fuel the oppression of Others. Instead, the hospitable host acknowledges mutual but different marginality as a foundation to welcome and aid the guest.

This endeavor is not without risk—to safety, comfort, or self-satiety—and the host must accept that risk because our complete safety is not worth sacrificing the lives of others. Ward echoes the biblical basis of risk in hospitality with “Joseph in Genesis when he welcomed the brothers who had formerly threatened to kill him,” and with “the Hebrew people [who were] challenged in Exodus to welcome the stranger because they themselves were once strangers.” The constituency of neo-tribalism rejects this risk and prefers to neglect, banish, and imprison others in a bid to secure their own peace of mind.

When host and guest mutually participate in the work towards justice and fulfillment, this feminist vision of hospitality aligns with Michael Marder’s condition of “flowering-with” which Hoskote invokes to “imagine ways of living and learning with Others.” James Keenan describes Jesuit hospitality, from a Jesuit identity rooted in the apostolic mission, much along the same terms. So, as Ward states, Jesuit hospitality (taking into consideration feminist hospitality) is “that hospitality that goes out and meets people on the road where they are.” Jesuit hospitality is what moves us to go out into the world to heed Pope Francis’ call for encounter, putting us in community with “those for whom nobody is caring” and working for justice in an unequal and violent world. Jesuit hospitality can aid Hoskote’s cosmopolitanism, in which “we are called upon to release ourselves to [the diverse experiences, theories, narratives, and indeed the alternative modernities of the societies of the Global South] on their own terms, translating ourselves to accommodate them rather than the other way around.”

If Georgetown University is to participate in the cosmopolitanism of repair, it must, in Peter-Hans Kolvenbach’s words, “educate the whole person of solidarity for the real world.” The university must materially support students who have answered the call for justice and embody Jesuit and feminist hospitality, whether this action occurs in the classroom or the encampment, through research or organizing, or with the marginalized of the Global South or North.

Patrick Bai (C’26) is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences at Georgetown University.