Convergence speaks to the intersection of multiple perspectives, ideas, and bodies—to a confluence, a meeting point, an encounter. Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies is an invitation to respond critically, aesthetically, and kinetically to the idea of “meeting grounds”—inflected, as it is, with histories of settlement, displacement, and resettlement throughout the Americas. Whereas hospitality invokes a series of guest-host/mover-stayer relations centered on (solicited) encounters, radical hospitalities deal with ethics of gathering and imply a new way of being together that can be both utopic and politically generative. Intimate geographies illuminate those micropolitical domains—bodies, spaces, and relations—which inform and are informed by social and cultural frameworks. Unsettling implies a movement, a shift from being idle towards becoming undone, being challenged, being in discomfort, shifting perspectives, unlearning or learning anew. Unsettling the Americas, then, is an invitation to unsettle as well as to be unsettled: to evaluate our own locations in relation to each other and within our respective colonial histories.
In Canada, these histories became particularly relevant in November 2015, when the government announced the sponsorship of over 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country. International press agencies depicted Canada’s hospitality as a contrast to the rhetorics of fear and paranoia that have met and excluded refugees and immigrants elsewhere. However, recent suicide crises in First Nations communities across Canada raise important questions regarding Canadian settler colonialism and international relationalities. What intimate gestures and imaginative spaces have the capacity to generate new political possibilities or alternative networks of care, or transcend a politics as-is? How can we generate spaces that acknowledge shared and conflicted histories while making room to restructure institutional, inter/intracultural, and colonial relations? How might we oppose growing isolationist/nationalist movements? How might migrant mobilities and discourses of multiculturalism emerge from and exacerbate the structures of settler colonialism? How can we unsettle (artistic, activist, academic) institutionalisms? Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies invites reflection on these domains of overlap and difference: how do we enact and contest the intimate frontiers of coloniality, and what it means to host and to be hosted, in colonized spaces? What does it mean to gather on colonized land? Convergence 2017 falls on the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, and/or Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and marks an ideal time to discuss and contest the politics of gathering.