ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Hospitality in a Post-/Colonial World: Vitoria and Kant on International Communication and Commerce

Jeanette Ehrmann
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Jeanette Ehrmann
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Open Panel

Abstract

The conquest of the „New World“ in 1492 not only marks the beginning of modern colonialism. The colonial division of the globe on the basis of a system of latitudes and longitudes creates a political cartography and thus a new „nomos of the earth“, which is accompanied by the emergence of a world economy. It is in this context that Francisco de Vitoria in his lecture “On the Indians Lately Discovered” transfers the archaic right of hospitality to modernity within the frame of a new international law. Whilst emphasizing the equality of Indians and Spaniards on grounds of natural law, the right of hospitality is directly followed by defending the commercial interests of the Spanish „newcomers“: Vitoria postulates the right of the Spaniards to „lawfully carry on trade among the Indians by importing goods which the they lack and by exporting either gold or silver or other goods of which the Indians have abundance”. Both the right of hospitality and the right to resource extraction are attributed to the originally common ownership of the world – a legitimizing trope that is also used by Kant in his third definitive article of the “Perpetual Peace”. In contrast to Vitoria, however, Kant explicitly condemns the violent excesses of colonial trading companies and the system of Caribbean slavery as an abuse of the right of hospitality. The question remains whether the foundation of a cosmopolitan law on the basis of international communication and commerce leads to a normative justification of the global imposition of the same system of exchange. In analyzing the tensions within Vitoria’s and Kant’s thought, the paper seeks to highlight the dialectics of normativity in the context of a colonial world system and to shed light on current actualizations of the right of hospitality for global justice in a postcolonial world.