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Phenomenologies of the StrangerBetween Hostility and Hospitality$
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Richard Kearney and Kascha Semonovitch

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823234615

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823234615.001.0001

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Neither Close Nor Strange

Neither Close Nor Strange

Levinas, Hospitality, and Genocide

Chapter:
(p.242) 14 Neither Close Nor Strange
Source:
Phenomenologies of the Stranger
Author(s):

RICHARD KEARNEY

KASCHA SEMONOVITCH

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823234615.003.0016

Can we apply Emmanuel Levinas's account of the Other to concrete situations? Though one might first associate Levinas's thought with the European genocide of the early twentieth century, this chapter looks at the Rwandan carnage of 1994. The horror of this massacre lies in part in that it was committed, quite literally, “face to face” between friends and family. These events force us to ask: how is it that neighbors and acquaintances could become the main perpetrators of mass murder? A phenomenology of the Stranger and the subject's hospitable or hostile response to one's own neighbor is shown to be a pressing ethico-political project. This chapter argues that Levinas's phenomenological descriptions of hospitality and the face of the stranger enable us to have a fuller appreciation of what is at stake in genocide. More specifically, it claims that the possibility of genocide lies in the refusal to acknowledge the Other either as a neighbor (close to us) or as a stranger (a guest).

Keywords:   Emmanuel Levinas, hospitality, genocide, Rwanda, Other, neighbor, phenomenology, Stranger

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