A leading scholarly proponent of individuality over group identity, and of cities as a place where the freedom to be unattached – undefined by territorial belonging – will give a public lecture at Memorial University on March 7.
Dr. Nigel Rapport is the Canada Research Chair in Globalization, Citizenship and Justice and the Director of the Centre for Cosmopolitan Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. His talk, “People of the Air and City of Global Guests,” is named for a slur favoured by the Nazis: Luftmenschen, or people of the air, of smoke – those who have no roots and so remain “guests” among others.
“I argue for an appreciation and an education of global guesthood; and for the city as a site where an embodiment of global guesthood might be secured,” he explained.
Dr. Rapport is interested in individual identity as separate and distinct from group identity. “It’s human to make connections, to want to belong and to create communities,” Dr. Rapport said. “However, it’s not who we are by gender, by ethnicity or by nationality that makes us human; rather, humanity resides in the individual’s capacity to achieve.”
Throughout a lifetime, he noted, people will belong to several different kinds of groups. He believes the freedom to join different groups – and to exit those groups – is something a liberal state should protect. He believes movement and multiplicity are crucial to justice and just relations between humans.
“This is based in the wish that people will recognize their own right to choose identities,” he says. The lecture will also argue for the appreciation of global guesthood and cities as a place to enshrine this. By conceiving of themselves as mutual guests on a small planet, Rapport hopes human beings can escape the mutual destruction that derives from exclusivist identities fixed to territories.
The lecture takes place Wed., March 7 at 8 p.m. in the Arts and Administration Building, Arts Atrium, Room A-1046, St. John’s campus. Parking is available in Lot 15, off Russell Road. All welcome; refreshments will be provided.