Anthropology and the New Cosmopolitanism: Rooted, Feminist and Vernacular Perspectives

By Pnina Werbner | Go to book overview

17
Cosmopolitanism, Globalisation and Diaspora1
Stuart Hall in Conversation with Pnina Werbner,
March 2006

PW: I want to start by asking something about globalisation, because we talk a lot about globalisation and multiculturalism today but I think that cosmopolitanism is a little bit different from those two concepts, in the sense that it's a vision, some would say a utopian vision — for world citizenship, peace or human rights, but … so how do you see cosmopolitanism today in the world with all its apparently endemic, terrible conflicts, intractable …

SH: Well, I do think I understand cosmopolitanism principally as an ideal, a utopia. I'm not at all sure about 'world citizenship'. What I would say is that nowadays the concept is very closely related to globalisation. We are obliged to talk about the interdependencies across the globe in a planetary way, in which more or less everybody is in the swim of history and connected with one another. Of course, connected in deeply unequal ways — globalisation is a contradictory system, the product of what used to be called 'combined and uneven development'. Outside this uneven and unequal framework, cosmopolitanism is a very limited concept. It can only mean the capacity of certain elites to move around within very limited circles. Once our perspective becomes planetary, and there is a possibility of global citizenship, then cosmopolitanism as a utopia becomes potentially more possible. Of course the actual form that globalisation, — this interconnectedness — has taken, is exactly the opposite. It connects disjunctive histories, the very early and the very late, the too late and the too early, the developed, the developing and the underdeveloped, the colonised and the colonisers, the pre- and the postcolonial, etc. So whereas in the discourse of contemporary globalisation, we speak as though there was one space, one globe, and therefore potentially one citizenship, a universal human morality, the reality is precisely the reverse. Not that the interdependencies don't constitute something new. I think they constitute a profoundly new historical moment. They may even constitute the moment when such a universal vision of belonging is potentially realisable. But the reality of contemporary globalisation — interconnectedness — must be seen as, in fact, a

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