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We the Cosmopolitans

We the Cosmopolitans: Moral and Existential Conditions of Being Human

Lisette Josephides
Alexandra Hall
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 194
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  • Book Info
    We the Cosmopolitans
    Book Description:

    The provocative title of this book is deliberately and challengingly universalist, matching the theoretically experimental essays, where contributors try different ideas to answer distinct concerns regarding cosmopolitanism. Leading anthropologists explore what cosmopolitanism means in the context of everyday life, variously viewing it as an aspect of kindness and empathy, as tolerance, hospitality and openness, and as a defining feature of pan-human individuality. The chapters thus advance an existential critique of abstract globalization discourse. The book enriches interdisciplinary debates about hitherto neglected aspects of contemporary cosmopolitanism as a political and moral project, examining the form of its lived effects and offering new ideas and case studies to work with.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-277-5
    Subjects: Anthropology, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Lisette Josephides and Alex Hall
  4. Introduction: We the Cosmopolitans: Framing the Debate
    (pp. 1-28)
    Lisette Josephides

    InLife and Fate, Vasily Grossman’s epic Second World War novel set in the Soviet Union, he introduces a character known as the ‘holy innocent’. Following his refusal to work on the building of the crematoria in the concentration camp in which he was held, the holy innocent is executed, but manages to leave behind a manifesto on what it is to be human. He singles out kindness as the quality that is most truly human: an everyday, private, thoughtless, senseless, unwitnessed, even stupid kindness, exemplified in the love and pity in the heart of ordinary people for any living...

  5. Chapter 1 Citizens of Everything: The Aporetics of Cosmopolitanism
    (pp. 29-47)
    Ronald Stade

    Concepts have social lives and cultural biographies. The concept of ‘the cosmopolitan’ is no exception. It emerged from the shadows of history and underwent semantic shifts and adaptations. What the constituent parts that make up the word ‘cosmopolitan’ – that is,kosmosandpolites– refer to has changed drastically over the centuries. To begin with,kosmossignified the entire order of the universe or of nature or of reality – in other words, everything that is. In antiquity, thepolites(usually translated as ‘citizen’) would be a man of wealth who had been born into a privileged kinship group. The second part...

  6. Chapter 2 The Capacities of Anyone: Accommodating the Universal Human Subject as Value and in Space
    (pp. 48-67)
    Nigel Rapport

    What is a human being capable of achieving, and what is he or she liable to suffer? I am determined to say a human being is capable of creating worlds; and he or she is liable to suffer subjection within the worlds of others and to subject others to his or her own. ‘Determined to say’, because this abstract formulation calls into question structuralist and post-structuralist tendencies in anthropology, and posits existential capacities of human being beyond the particularities of social, cultural and historical contexts.

    Philosophical voices have been less circumspect in this regard, as have literary ones. ‘A whole...

  7. Chapter 3 Cosmopolitan Morality in the British Immigration and Asylum System
    (pp. 68-89)
    Alexandra Hall

    At Locksdon Immigration Removal Centre one night in 2003, a man got up from his dormitory bed, walked along the corridor, locked himself in the toilets and strangled himself with his shoelaces. He had been a resident for some time at Locksdon, a secure detention centre in Britain that accommodates men subject to immigration law.¹ Quiet, unassuming, inconspicuous and shortly due to be deported back to his country of origin, his behaviour had not raised any concerns with staff. He was reported missing by his roommate in the middle of the night and was unconscious by the time he was...

  8. Chapter 4 Experiences of Pain: A Gateway to Cosmopolitan Subjectivity?
    (pp. 90-110)
    Anne Sigfrid Grønseth

    Since our lives are increasingly lived in a tension between global and local forces we are regularly confronted with frictions between universal solidarity and local identity. When unfamiliar others ever more often come to live next door, issues of sameness and difference, us and them, and inclusion and exclusion become precarious. To avoid splitting and fragmentation that easily leads to stigma and persecution, there is a need to explore moments of experience that open up spaces for practices, meanings and social relationships that bear the qualities of cosmopolitanism. This is not an instrumental cosmopolitanism that makes us all alike as...

  9. Chapter 5 Cosmopolitanism as Welcoming the Other and Imperilling the Self: Ethics and Early Encounters between Lyons Missionaries and West African Rulers
    (pp. 111-134)
    Marc Schiltz

    In this chapter I approach cosmopolitanism as a human capacity for empathy and sociality, and as a life project of self-discovery by welcoming the Other.¹ My examination of these issues takes me on a journey to the nineteenth century, to the first meetings between Lyons missionaries of the Society of African Missions (SMA) and West African rulers in Dahomey and Yorubaland. How to recognize such ‘grass roots’ cosmopolitanism in historical records does however raise problems. Not only are there many gaps and biases in the records, but also the accounts were written predominantly by missionaries without African input. Fortunately, Lyons...

  10. Chapter 6 The Cartoon Controversy and the Possibility of Cosmopolitanism
    (pp. 135-155)
    Thomas Hylland Eriksen

    The so-called cartoon controversy, which developed during the autumn of 2005 and erupted early in 2006, only to fizzle out a couple of months later, could have a deep significance for any discussion of cosmopolitanism. Some of the several thousand online and offline commentators worldwide talking about it in January and February 2006 compared it to the Salman Rushdie affair of 1988 onwards, but the more recent drama was simultaneously less and more significant than the Iranian fatwa on Salman Rushdie: this conflict reached its climax within weeks and waned afterwards (although it has arguably had long-term repercussions, feeding — as...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 156-170)
    Alexandra Hall

    In Tommy Lee Jones’s filmThe Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada(Jones 2005), the deserts of the US—Mexican border form the backdrop for a drama about brutality, friendship and redemption. Melquiades Estrada is an undocumented Mexican immigrant working in Texas. When he shoots at a desert coyote to protect his goats, watching Border Patrolman Norton believes he is under attack and fires his gun, killing Melquiades. When Norton realizes what he has done, he buries the Mexican man’s body in a shallow grave and keeps quiet. The body is subsequently discovered and reburied by the local sheriff, who ignores...

  12. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 171-172)
  13. Index
    (pp. 173-186)