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Post-Cosmopolitan Cities

Post-Cosmopolitan Cities: Explorations of Urban Coexistence

Caroline Humphrey
Vera Skvirskaja
Series: Space and Place
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    Post-Cosmopolitan Cities
    Book Description:

    Examining the way people imagine and interact in their cities, this book explores the post-cosmopolitan city. The contributors consider the effects of migration, national, and religious revivals (with their new aesthetic sensibilities), the dispositions of marginalized economic actors, and globalized tourism on urban sociality. The case studies here share the situation of having been incorporated in previous political regimes (imperial, colonial, socialist) that one way or another created their own kind of cosmopolitanism, and now these cities are experiencing the aftermath of these regimes while being exposed to new national politics and migratory flows of people.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-511-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Population Studies, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    This book is about the kind of cosmopolitanism found – or not found – in cities. It arose from a perception that many great cities, from Bukhara in Central Asia to Venice in Europe, once famous for being cosmopolitan places, are no longer so in the twenty-first century, or at least not in the same way as before. Discussing this, we arrived at the tentative notion of the ‘post-cosmopolitan’ city that is explored in this volume. Our book first of all draws attention to the fact that the inhabitants of many contemporary cities, diverse as they are, share at least one thing:...

  6. Chapter 1 Odessa: Pogroms in a Cosmopolitan City
    (pp. 17-64)

    How can we explain the case of a city famed for its cosmopolitanism, where nevertheless pogroms have taken place? In the early twentieth century, when Odessa was renowned for its enlightened multinational mercantile elite, its magnificent opera house, its irreverence and street humour, it was also the city where Russia’s most violent pogroms against the Jews took place. It cannot be convincingly argued that they were only a matter of externally-incited passions unleashed in the city, for attacks on Jews had taken place in Odessa many times in previous decades (notably in 1821, 1849, 1859, 1871, 1881 and 1900, as...

  7. Chapter 2 Negotiating Cosmopolitanism: Migration, Religious Education and Shifting Jewish Orientations in Post-Soviet Odessa
    (pp. 65-93)

    The city of Odessa, sprawling along the coast of the Black Sea, is commonly recognised as ‘cosmopolitan’, ‘unique’ and ‘Jewish’.¹ Behind this is a complex reality: although there was a mass out-migration of Jews in the late 1980s–1990s, today some returnees as well as international Jewish organisations are taking root. Such post-Soviet transformations have created new arenas of Jewish practice in the city. For some Jewish Odessans, the emergence of present-day religious forms of Jewish expression can be incorporated within the city’s long-standing ethos of tolerance. For them, the current development of Jewish life is thus interpreted as a...

  8. Chapter 3 At the City’s Social Margins: Selective Cosmopolitans in Odessa
    (pp. 94-119)

    In anthropology there is a tendency to conceptualise notions that once claimed universal singularity in the plural: there are alternative modernities, different capitalisms and ‘discrepant cosmopolitanisms’ (Clifford 1992). Following the latter idea that there are different, plural cosmopolitan practices and attitudes, this chapter looks at cosmopolitanisms present in contemporary Odessa and represented by two different communities – post-Soviet Afghan (im)migrants and native Ukrainian Roma (also known by the ethnonym Servy). In the city, the ethnic worlds of these groups are far apart and they have little to do with one other in their everyday lives. What they have in common is...

  9. Chapter 4 ‘A Gate, but Leading Where?’ In Search of Actually Existing Cosmopolitanism in Post-Soviet Tbilisi
    (pp. 120-140)

    In his novelAli and Nino(2000) Kurban Said paints a vivid picture of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi at the turn of the twentieth century as a culturally varied and multi-religious city. Imagine a bustling city with cobbled streets, wooden houses with wide balconies and intricate carvings, all lying along the Mtkvari River and climbing the surrounding hills, with a blend of a wide variety of churches, synagogues, mosques and a lively bazaar: ‘This town with its eighty different peoples, each with their own language … Armenian peddlers, Kurdish fortune-tellers, Persian cooks, Ossetian priests, Russians, Arabs, Ingush, Indians: all the peoples...

  10. Chapter 5 Cosmopolitan Architecture: ‘Deviations’ from Stalinist Aesthetics and the Making of Twenty-First-Century Warsaw
    (pp. 141-169)

    In striking contrast to cities such as Odessa and Dushanbe (as discussed in chapters 3 and 8 respectively), the period of Soviet domination over Warsaw was anything but a time of demographic diversity. The Jewish community, which had comprised around thirty per cent of the city’s population throughout the 1930s (Zalewska 1996), was almost entirely decimated during the Holocaust, and thousands more Jews left Warsaw during a government-led ‘anti-Zionist’ campaign in 1968. Brutal population exchanges between Poland, Germany and the Soviet Union in the first years after the Second World War and the regime’s tendency to pursue a ‘homogenising’ minorities...

  11. Chapter 6 Sinking and Shrinking City: Cosmopolitanism, Historical Memory and Social Change in Venice
    (pp. 170-193)

    Like others, I first entered Venice through the Grand Canal and St Mark’s Square, and was astonished at how oriental the city looked: the gothic Byzantine façades of palaces covered with porphyry and gold, and the pink-and-white lozenge pattern of the Ducal Palace that was common in Muslim mosques and tombs along the Silk Road where many Venetian merchants travelled. The cluttered cupolas, pointed arches, and gilt mosaics of the Basilica of St Mark seemed unexpectedly close to those of the courtyards of the great mosques. My sense of amazement only increased when I entered the labyrinth of narrow alleys...

  12. Chapter 7 Haunted by the Past and the Ambivalences of the Present: Immigration and Thessalonica’s Second Path to Cosmopolitanism
    (pp. 194-216)

    In assessing its recent experience of immigration, it is often asserted that Greece has transformed from a migrant-sending to a migrant-receiving country, thus depicting the challenges of ‘diversity’ as a historical novelty. However tangible this assertion may be, it is negligible of a long history of population movements, ‘forced’ or ‘voluntary’, within and beyond the country’s shifting borders, and of a legacy of multiethnic coexistence that marked Greece’s passage to modernity (Baldwin-Edwards and Apostolatou 2008). Nowhere in the country may this history be more explicitly traceable than in Thessalonica, a major port city at the crossroads between East and West....

  13. Chapter 8 ‘For Badakhshan – the Country without Borders!’: Village Cosmopolitans, Urban-Rural Networks and the Post-Cosmopolitan City in Tajikistan
    (pp. 217-239)

    ‘I used not to be this way’, commented Shah Firuz having consumed the latest in a long sequence of teacups ofVodka Tajikistan. ‘No, he didn’t’, replied the gathering of men sitting in the Dushanbe cafe where we were toasting ‘artists’ day’ on a cold and wet February afternoon. ‘The war did this to me,’ Shah went on, ‘before the war I was a strong man, a boxer, you wouldn’t have recognised me in the era of the Soviets – no vodka or cigarettes ever passed my lips. Now I’ve lost my strength – look how my stomach has become big.’ The...

    (pp. 240-242)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 243-250)