Spatializing Difference beyond Cosmopolitanism: Rethinking Planetary Futures

Theory, Culture and Society 28 (5):75-97 (2011)

This paper develops a critical engagement with ‘cosmopolitanism’ and specifically the geographical imaginations it implicates. It does so in order to work through some of the geographical closures in the new cosmopolitanism literature and, further, to suggest alternative — more uncertain and speculative — spatial imaginations for modes of living together with radical alterity. The paper is written in the context of the wealth of recent literature that has sought to recuperate cosmopolitanism as a progressive political philosophy and imagination. Part of the paper’s intervention, however, is to suggest that mechanisms and political imaginations for living together might in fact gain much by stepping out from cosmopolitanism’s conceptual shadow. First, the paper argues that implicated within much of the new cosmopolitan literature is a planetary consciousness that has a long historical antecedence in western thought. The paper stresses the problematic textures of the planetary geographical imaginations embedded within avowedly cosmopolitan discourse, arguing that the ‘cosmos’ of cosmopolitanism is no geographically innocent signifier. It is in fact tethered to an imperial Apollonian gaze that cannot help but rekindle ancient Greek notions of formal order and beauty, Pythagorean beliefs in a universe of harmony, and their realization in western liberalism and particularly US Cold War imperialism. Second, drawing upon postcolonial re-readings of the planet and critical geographical mobilizations of place, the paper suggests alternative, less certain, and less avowedly ‘cosmopolitan’ imaginations that have the capacity to engage difference in non-assimilatory terms. Cumulatively, the paper is an attempt to answer one simple question: what difference does it make to think geographically about cosmopolitanism?
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DOI 10.1177/0263276411410447
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References found in this work BETA

On the Political.Chantal Mouffe - 2006 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 68 (4):830-832.
The Cosmopolitan Society and Its Enemies.U. Beck - 2002 - Theory, Culture and Society 19 (1-2):17-44.
Locating Cosmopolitanism.Z. Skrbis - 2004 - Theory, Culture and Society 21 (6):115-136.

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