Seminar: Politics on Tap

Hospitality is an inherently political and radical act, especially in a world which is becoming more and more inhospitable. Yet many people don’t understand the power and opportunities we have to produce tangible community based cultural change through our role in the industry. This seminar provides an opportunity to discuss the ways in which we have initiated social change through our roles behind the bar and the responsibilities we have to our communities. This session will primarily operate through the contexts of queerness/transness as well as sexual violence, however the lessons and skills taken away from this are not limited to those contexts.
Drawing from personal stories, queer theory, feminist theory, and philosophies of hospitality, this session discusses the ways we can create intentional, supportive and hospitable environments, how we can overturn barriers we may unintentionally create, and how we can move beyond creating safe spaces and towards creating actively welcoming spaces. This session strives to recontextualize our roles in the hospitality industry into roles of activism, justice, and advocacy through candid discussions about the ways in which we engage with the industry, as professionals or as guests. In the face of rising hostility towards many groups in our communities it is important that as hospitality professionals we understand what we can do to build inclusive and welcoming places.

Building on the principles of human rights scholar Hannah Arendt, and sociologist Ray Oldenburg, we believe that community and society is built on the mutual recognition of humanity. However in an age of polarization, dehumanization, and detachment, that mutual recognition is being lost. As hospitality professionals we have a unique opportunity to create spaces which actively shape who is seen as a welcome part of the communities in our cities and styles of service. We must also be able to recognize that an increase in the presence of various equity seeking groups is not enough, there must also be active work to challenge and dismantle the systems which make our spaces hostile and prevent their engagement in the first place.

Upon leaving this session, attendees will have developed a better understanding of the structural barriers to engagement with our industry, the dangers of leaving this work exclusively to equity seeking groups, the importance of visibility, and the difference between a safe and an actively welcoming space. Attendees should feel empowered to engage in informed discussions about inclusive hospitality strategies, produce change in their own communities, and challenge inequitable systems which they notice. As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. With this session we want attendees to leave empowered with the knowledge of our ability to create change, and with a fulsome understanding of our responsibility to push for that change.

This session will feature various qualitative experiences from individuals navigating our industry through various embodied experiences, a fulsome theoretical and philosophical discussion about the role of hospitality itself, and concrete actions which individuals are able to take within the same day of this seminar to build a more equitable space. Attendees will also leave with a wealth of resources for further research, and should feel empowered to recontextualize their own experiences within the theoretical frameworks provided. Finally this session aims to build an ongoing community of practice for professions engaging in the political work of hospitality in order to share and develop resources in perpetuity.

August 12 @ 14:00
14:00 — 15:00 (1h)

South Lounge

Calliope Draper, Kate Chernoff