ULM’s Traveling Scholars series continued on Tuesday evening with Chad Kautzer’s seminar “Homelessness, Security and the Politics of Space.”
Kautzer commenced the standing room only seminar by welcoming every one “even if they were only there for extra credit.”
Kautzer, who has been a professional advocate for more than 20 years, spoke about a constant plight in the world: homelessness.
“I am quite surprised by how open people are to this framework of thinking about the issue,” said Kautzer. “I thought there would be more resistance, more debate but what I have gotten from different audiences is that people want clarification.”
Kautzer defined certain sociological terms we use on a daily basis that shape the perspective of humans to make his point more solidified to his audience. These involuntary impulses are what Kautzer seeks to improve upon.
According to Kautzer, his work is focused on pushing back against the stigma of the “invisible homeless.”
Kautzer said when well-meaning people have a moral reaction to the homeless by doing things like simply donating money; only evoke emotions rather than implementing social change.
Quoting philosophers such as Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger and “The New York Times” Naomi Zack, Kautzer verbally painted what the homeless go through daily.
Kautzer compared it to what people go through when dealing with racial profiling and other stereotypes.
Kautzer said during the year he followed several homeless people, keeping their possessions remained the most important factor in their lives.
After changing the perspectives Kautzer and his colleagues’ solution is to set up government-funded housing which they estimate to be around $14,000 per unit.
“Like everything else in life what these people really need is love,” Kautzer said.
After he completed the talk, Kautzer opened the floor to questions and discussion.
Travis Eickman agreed with the way Kautzer is trying to tackle the issue.
“I have tried some practical ways of helping out the homeless,” said Eickman, a communication graduate student. “This seminar brought everything full circle in the motivation and importance of carrying on generosity and towards this culture.”
N a t h a n i e l Shultz did not agree completely with Kautzer’s solution.
“ W h a t Kautzer wants is understanding but understanding doesn’t necessarily mean empathy,” said Shultz, a senior toxicology major.
Kautzer held master class sessions throughout his visit.
Kautzer is an assistant professor of philosophy and director of the social justice minor at the University of Colorado Denver.
Kautzer was chief curator of an art exhibition about home, homelessness and social recognition in 2013.