The Cosmopolitan Imaginary

The Cosmopolitan Imaginary

Cosmopolitanism is an ideal that has persisted in different forms throughout many civilizations. It has been influential in anthropology, art history, political theory and cultural studies. More recently, there has been an attempt to relate this concept to non-Western theories of universalism, belonging and humanitarian philosophy. In this subject there will be a strong focus on the Classical and Hellenistic philosophers the Stoics – that represented a radical vision of equality. They proposed a notion of an ideal state – a Republic that would be populated by sages. The status of sage was open to all irrespective of race, class or gender. In this imaginary Republic a cosmic city was envisaged of unrestricted citizenship and in which the regulative institutions will have withered away. These simple propositions have also earned them the epithet that they were the first to conceive of a cosmopolitan worldview. Most surveys of the history of the concept of cosmopolitanism start with a dutiful acknowledgement of the Stoics. It will then leap forward to the Enlightenment accounts of cosmopolitanism and Kant, and his enduring influence on contemporary theorists such as Habermas and Derrida. Finally, it will take a wider optic, and address a range of Chinese and Japanese scholars that can provide alternative traditions of cosmopolitan thinking.

Primary Sources

A.A. Long and D.N. Sedley, (1987) The Hellenistic Philosophers, Volume 1, Translations of the principal sources with philosophical commentary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

B. Inwood and L.P. Gerson, (1997) Hellenistic Philosophy Introductory Reading, second edition, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.

Further Reading

The Stoics and Cosmopolitanism

A.A. Long, (1986) Hellenistic Philosophy, London: Duckworth.

M. Schofield (1991) The Stoic Idea of the City, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

A. Erskine, (1990) The Hellenistic Stoa, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Contemporary Theories of Cosmopolitanism

Appiah, K. (2006) Cosmopolitanism, New York, W.W. Norton & Co.

Balibar, E. (2007) “On Universalism in debate with Alain Badiou”, translated by Mary O’Neill, 02. 2007 (accessed March 2009).

Birnbaum, D. (2008) The Hospitality of Presence: Problems of Otherness in Husserl’s Phenomenology, New York, Sternberg Press.

Castoriadis, C. (1997a) World in Fragments, edited and translated by David A. Curtis, Stanford, Stanford University Press.

Castoriadis, C. (1997b) The Castoriadis Reader, translated by David Ames Curtis, Oxford, Blackwell.

Castoriadis, C (1997c) The Imaginary Institution of Society, translated by Kathleen Blamey, Cambridge, Polity Press.

Cheetham, M. (2009) “Theory reception: Panofsky, Kant, and disciplinary cosmopolitanism”, Journal of Art Historiography, 1, Page / record No.: 1-KJ/3 (accessed December 2010)

Chaudhuri, A. (2008) ‘Cosmopolitanism’s Alien Face’, New Left Review, 55, Jan-Feb.

Delanty, G. (2009) The Cosmopolitan Imagination, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Hsu, M. (2005) ‘Networked Cosmopolitanism on Cultural Exchange and International Exhibitions’, in N. Tsoutas (ed.), Knowledge + Dialogue + Exchange: Remapping Cultural Globalism from the South, Sydney, Artspace.

Meskimmon, M. (2011) Contemporary Art and the Cosmopolitan Imagination, London, Routledge.

Mitter, P. and Mercer, K. (2005) “Reflections on Modern Art and National Identity in Colonial India”, in K. Mercer, (ed.) Cosmopolitan Modernism, London, INIVA & MIT Press.

Oestreich, G. (1982) Neostocism and the Early Modern State, (eds) B. Oestreich & H.G. Koenigsberger, transl. D. Mclintock, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Regev, M. (2007). ‘Cultural Uniqueness and Aesthetic Cosmopolitanism’, European Journal of Social Theory, 10 (1) 123-138.