The II Balvant Parekh Lecture and Symposium
Dr. Homi Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University, delivered the II Balvant Parekh Memorial Lecture titled: “The Ethics of Hospitality and the Art of the Home” on January 24, 2014. He traced the trajectory of the idea and practices of hospitality in Kant’s notion of cosmopolitanism discussed in Perpetual Peace, Derrida’s analysis of similar concepts in the texts, On Hospitality, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness and shed light on the tensions involved in conceptual and experiential interpretations of citizenship, sovereignty, refugee, nomad and the like. He reminded that a refugee is often a supplicant and seldom a claimant. Showing the works of Zarina Hashmi, Professor Bhabha explained the multiple nuances of experiences such as home, departure, journeys, and displacement. He deviated from the formula of nostalgia, longing and anguish while reading the works of Hashmi and explained how in the works of Zarina Hashmi, the very process of art making incorporates anxieties and hopes around home and displacements.
Scholars who attended the Symposium organized around the lecture on 25 January 2014 had many queries on the pertinent issues discussed by Bhabha in the lecture. Professor Thomas Pantham, former faculty of Political Science at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, discussed how in Gandhi’s philosophy, the ideas of peace, ahimsa and accommodative cosmopolitanism are sensitively interconnected. Lajwanti Chatani, a professor from the Department of Political Science dwelled on the legal and political problematics the interpretations of sovereignty, citizenship and refugee in Bhabha’s presentation. Professor Jaisinh Birjepatil and Prof. D. L. Sheth had queries about the experiences of displacement, migrancy and journeys. Artist and Art Professor, Gulam Sheikh reflected on broader interpretative possibilities of Zarina’s work from an artist’s perspective. More than 25 participants of the symposium had a lively interactive session with Bhabha who took part enthusiastically in the discussions and addressed the questions and comments.