OUT NOW: TOD#38 Satellite Lifelines by Isabel Löfgren

My book Satellite Lifelines: Media, Art, Migration and the Crisis of Hospitality in Divided Cities just launched and can be found online (info below).

Hospitality is central to the question of political frontiers where admittance and refusal across state borders may be a matter of life or death, and also touches on the fundamental ethical question of the boundaries of the human, the constitution of the subject, how and why we set these up, and ways in which we can attempt to bring them down. A majority of migrants today now seek refuge in cities rather than in camps, prompting us to rethink urban space to accommodate newcomers more long-term. Who has the right to belong? And on what terms?

As we can no longer separate cityscapes from mediascapes, we need to also reconsider how these now almost indistinguishable ‘-scapes’ constitute ‘connected’ places of exclusion and belonging. In this dilemma of who is in or out, the political unwillingness and inability of dealing with the notion of the Other, has assigned the to those who are assumed to be “unprogrammable” within national narratives, which has resulted in the ad nauseam repetition of the term “refugee crisis” in the past decade. I suggest that it is not the refugee, migrant or immigrant who shape the crisis. If we shift the lens towards host societies and their relationship to newcomers, my suggestion is that we instead call it a “crisis of hospitality”, they become implicated in this dilemma. It follows that we lack a language of hospitality in political and media discourses if we are to act politically towards emancipatory politics of right to the right to the city, the right to belong, and the ethics of belonging.

Considering that politics, urban planning and media platforms are unable to resolve this dilemma, in Satellite Lifelines, I turn to philosophy and art instead.  The book is a the same time philosophical inquiry, a critique of modernist urban planning, and artistic research. I take the reader to a multiethnic suburb in Sweden, where a participatory art installation on satellite dishes on modernist façades become a surface for understanding host-guest relations. In working closely with residents in a co-generative capacity, notions of belonging through transnational media and multiple reflections on what it is we call home flourished. Is it the vibrations from television broadcasts from faraway homelands resonating in large TV screens in living rooms while in exile? Is it the notion of community building from the ground up, which provides the grounds for social, urban and media justice movements? Or can home be found in the essential meeting with the Other by the face-to-face encounter, as Emmanuel Lévinas suggested? Questions about being trapped in eternal guesthood also came to the surface, and suggestions as to how art projects through a “hospitable turn” can open pathways for the right to host are explored.

– Isabel Löfgren

Download or order a copy of the book here: