Masks, Cosmopolitanism, Hospitality: on Facial Politics in the Covid-19 Era

Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 78 (4):1511-1532 (2023)
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Abstract

Philosophical issues of hospitality are bound up with broader issues of cosmopolitanism in thought and in practice. This paper considers the interplay of human faces, masks, forms of hospitality, and cosmopolitanizing and anti-cosmopolitanizing socio-political dynamics in the time of Covid-19. Despite confident assertions by some interested parties that it is now finished and past history, Covid-19 remains a major challenge across the globe, and so reflections on the interplay of masking, cosmopolitanism, and hospitality remain pertinent today and are not merely a quaint feature of life during the early years of the pandemic. Voluntary acts of self-masking are argued to be more than just mundane forms of micro-level action and interaction among persons. Instead, freighted sometimes with political meaning, and certainly loaded with ethical force, the donning of a face mask can operate as a small but compelling quotidian act of cosmopolitan concern and hospitableness towards other people, including those perceived to be very unlike oneself.

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