Carnegie Mellon University

Center for the Arts in Society

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Fine Arts


(In)Hospitable Bodies

(In)Hospitable Bodies investigates the ways in which a body welcomes and is welcomed in certain spaces. Alternately, it asks: how are bodies unwelcomed, excluded, or devalued in certain situations, settings, and systems?

“Bodies” in this project's title engages the human body, of course, but also considers other kinds of bodies: bodies of work, institutional bodies, bodies of scholars who define what does and doesn’t “count,” governing bodies, bodies (un)attached to brains, the invisible work of bodies, bodies moving through and taking up space, and the work of some bodies as hosts for other bodies.

At its core, the project interrogates where and why and how people include–or compartmentalize away–aspects of their lives in their creative or professional practice, and the ways in which societies and communities have pressured them to do so. Though (In)Hospitable Bodies will explore a wide-ranging application of these themes, there are two main arteries that anchor this project: contemporary concert music’s general inhospitality toward women creators and issues that center women, and the societal expectation that a woman’s body be a hospitable place to create new life. Bodies that are excluded from or defy the accepted narrative are forced to either change themselves, defy the narrative, or leave the space.

(In)Hospitable Bodies additionally explores the connection between the literal and figurative body as sites for (in)hospitality; in what situations is a figurative body inhospitable to someone because of their literal–lived–body? What is it about a body that confirms or denies their entry or value in certain spaces?