Hybrid Public defence: Helena Schmidt

Helena Schmidt will defend her doctoral dissertation: “Eating No-Bodies: The paradox of disembodied hospitality. Looking through the meal lens at diaconal hospitality and embodied citizenship in Oslo”, for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the Faculty of Theology.

The trial lecture will take place at 14.15 January 21, 2022.

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Image may contain: Forehead, Nose, Cheek, Skin, Smile.Adjudication committee

  • Professor Engin Isin, Queen Mary University of London’s School of Politics and International Relations, UK (first opponent).
  • Professor Rebecca de Souza, University of Minnesota, Duluth (second opponent)
  • Associate Professor Nina Hoel, Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo. 

Leader of the disputation


About the dissertation

This study feeds off the ambiguous diaconal meal in order to explore embodied belonging as a comment to both diaconal practice and contemporary citizenship studies. The study takes as its point of departure fieldwork observations and encounters with people marginalised by poverty and the precarity of irregular types of migration. Looking through the meal lens, the study addresses diaconal and urban engagements. The title, Eating No-Bodies, pays tribute to these engagements, or embodied moments, observed through a sensing methodology.  I have conducted three periods of fieldwork to gather information in two fields; a diaconal soup kitchen and the surrounding area of Grønland in Oslo. Methodologically, I follow among other Donna Haraway’s paramount contribution to situated knowledge, with specific interest in the empirical implications of selective blindness, and relate this to how Sara Ahmed proposes a queer phenomenological way of seeing. Both methodologically and analytically, I am inspired by how queer phenomenology involves ways of looking, about orientating, besides, next to, before, across, and beyond the straight lines. Analysing and interpreting observations from these periods of fieldwork suggest surprising paradoxes. Invisibility may be an important strategy to escape hostility. Negotiations and rejections of food hospitality could be interpreted as strategies to maintain personal dignity. With these analytical findings, the thesis interprets how acts of invisibility and refusals of disembodiment might influence and impact what lived citizenship means – both within and beyond diaconal contexts. The project question is: How can observations through the meal lens in a diaconal context contribute to discussions on lived kinds of citizenship?

Published Nov. 8, 2021 1:12 PM - Last modified Sep. 27, 2022 9:54 AM