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Emancipatory Cosmopolitanism: Towards an Agenda


  • This contribution was presented at a workshop on Cosmopolitan Presumptions at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, March 2006. I thank Des Gasper and Amrita Chhachhi for comments.


This contribution explores what, in outline, an agenda of emancipatory cosmopolitanism would consist of. The first step in this treatment is to scrutinize capitalist cosmopolitanism as the dominant variant of cosmopolitanism. Understanding its influence is crucial to the task of counterbalancing it. The second section concerns the strange double life of conventional cosmopolitanism, which, while claiming universality, reflects a regional, parochial order. This paper argues that if globalization is multipolar then cosmopolitanism too is multicentric and this involves overcoming West-centrism or monocultural cosmopolitanism. Third, whilst acknowledging the importance of the reflection on planetary ethics, the tendency toward normative abstraction is problematic; bringing history back into cosmopolitanism is necessary as a counterpoint to monocultural cosmopolitanism.