Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach


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Kessinger Publishing is the place to find hundreds of thousands of rare and hard-to-find books with something of interest The greatest American Indian baseball player of all time, Charles Albert Bender was, according to a contemporary,? More remarkably yet,? We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By contrast, nationalism places an emphasis on the collective dimension of human life.

The sole unit of analysis for nationalism is the collectivity — the nation, the ethnic group. It is this sense of belonging to a community that can be considered common and unifying to nationalist thinking, despite the wide variety of sometimes contrasting trends existing within it. Cosmopolitanism extends membership beyond what it sees as the narrow confines of a particular nation to the world at large.

It is arguable that this universality destroys the very basis of belonging — the cosmopolitan belongs everywhere but at the same time to nowhere in particular. This is closely related to the second point — the deterriorialization of cosmopolitanism as opposed to the centrality of the territorial dimension in nationalism. Cosmopolitanism is frequently associated with increased mobility of ideas, people, cultures and cannot be tied up to any specific territory.

It is based on the belief that the individual is capable of moving beyond territorial attachments. Loyalties are seen as divorced from territory. Instead multiple forms of identity and belonging are encouraged and promoted.

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By contrast, the concept of a territorially based homeland remains key to nationalist ideology. Almost all nationalist struggles revolve around territory as the object of emotional attachment of the members of the nation. Nationalism cannot be fully understood in rational categories alone, it invariably involves a strong emotional affection and loyalty. Cosmopolitanism is directed towards self-reflection and criticism more than to emotions. The final contradiction relates to the inadequacy of the temporal dimension of cosmopolitanism.

It has been extensively criticized for ignoring the temporal deepening of the human community [Cwerner, ; Smith, 25]. It is true that cosmopolitanism tends to concentrate on the spatial expansion of loyalties, identities and rights. Nor does it extend the rights and responsibilities to future generations.

A dialogue between past and present could contribute to a consideration of the ways in which the problems of the present might be partly generated by the inequalities of the past for example, inequalities between nation-states.

Rooting Cosmopolitanism in Neighborhoods

However, it is arguable that they do not automatically lead to an incompatibility between nationalist and cosmopolitan perspectives. As soon as we recognize that human nature can be constituted by both collectivist and individualist dimensions it becomes much more difficult to make categorical statements in this regard. Cosmopolitanism as a political project: politico-legal thesis. So far we have been discussing the normative side of the debate.

We now move to consider actual proposals of cosmopolitan democracy and their conceptualization of the role of the nation-state.


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As mentioned in the first section of this paper, the principle of cosmopolitan democracy as an alternative to existing structures of governance is articulated primarily by David Held. Underlying his work is the idea that the existing international system based on the Westphalian regime and state sovereignty is inadequate to deal with the challenges of globalization. Complex interconnectedness arising from globalization requires a more nuanced and multidimensional system of governance where states constitute just one level.

The inability of individual nation-states to provide answers to collective questions, the ambiguity of the boundaries between the national and the international, the global and the local means that nation-states are no longer the sole sovereign agents.

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Are nationalism and cosmopolitanism compatible?

The nation-state is unable to realize democracy in terms of three key tenets — individual autonomy, political legitimacy and democratic law. The community of fate can no longer be situated within the borders of a single nation-state. What is required in this context is a new institutional framework that is conceptualized in opposition to traditional national forms of democracy [Held, , ; b] and includes local, national, regional and global institutions.

This new democratic framework should be based on the principles of equal worth and dignity, active agency, political responsibility and accountability, consent, reflexive deliberation and collective decision-making through voting procedures, inclusiveness and subsidiarity, avoidance of serious harm and amelioration of urgent need [Held, b: ]. Held does not dismiss the role of the nation-state completely but does not see it as the primary locus of democracy.

He admits that the nation-state can coexist with transnational civil society and transnational organizations, such as the UN. Held is right in pointing out that it is not possible to confine politics to territorial borders. In addition, it is certainly vital to complement institutional principles with ethical considerations, such as equal worth and recognition of diversity.

Building Cosmopolitan Communities

Proponents of a more socially-oriented cosmopolitanism criticize his version of cosmopolitan democracy on the basis that it is grounded in the same statist assumptions [Beck, 25]. One other possible objection could be a lack of attention to the internal plurality of the cosmopolitan community. It is not clear who will define the emergent cosmopolitan order. There is a danger of several powerful states deciding on the boundaries of the cosmopolitan order. What happens to those states which fail to live up to the cosmopolitan ideal?

Held would respond by saying that cosmopolitanism is not about coercion and states should be free to join the cosmopolitan community at any stage. Cosmopolitanism and identity: culturalist thesis. Due to its capacity to transform state sovereignty and its integrating potential the EU is sometimes seen as the perfect example of cosmopolitanism in practice [Rifkin, ]. It appears that it is certainly right to view the EU as a cosmopolitan entity from an institutional viewpoint as evidenced by the presence of common European institutions.

At the same time describing Europe at the present stage of integration as cosmopolitan carries the danger of confusing cosmopolitanism with supranationalism that is a form of nationalism existing above and beyond the nation [Grande, 96]. The issue here is whether the cultural specificity of Europe as a distinct reality points to the existence of a form of cosmopolitan identity that transcends previous historical divisions and whether this cosmopolitan disposition is compatible with existing national affiliations. The first point to note is the expansion of the symbolic dimension of a common cultural space — a common flag and other symbols.

Secondly, new forms of commemoration have arisen based on forgiveness and aimed at overcoming the diverse and divisive experiences of the past [Giesen, ]. Thirdly, collective identities are at least partly conceptualized in European terms [Kohli, ].

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However, they complement and coexist with national loyalties. On the one hand, if cosmopolitanism is taken to mean the recognition of otherness and hybrid identities, a cosmopolitan Europe certainly exists, at least in the discourse prevalent in the context of integration. On the other hand, reducing cosmopolitanism to mere acceptance of plurality makes it an extension of multiculturalism.

Cosmopolitanism should be not simply about the coexistence of multiple identities but also about the interaction of the national and the global that transforms both in a positive way. Even if we recognize that national identities are being transformed as a result of interaction with the global it is difficult to determine to what extent this is triggered by Europeanization more than by pressures from within nation-states.

While it is an attractive theoretical idea, it remains hard to pin down clear cases of cosmopolitanism in practice. The real practices of the cosmopolitan agent are difficult to discern. Another widely recognized example of cosmopolitan belonging is one generated by transnational migration and diasporic movements [Ong, ].


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  5. Secondly, transnational migrant communities could be termed cosmopolitan, because their existence within the borders of individual nation-states reminds us that collective identities can be linked to places outside these borders. Identities are not fixed and migrants forge links that crosscut state boundaries. They get engaged in various organizations at the European level. Efforts are being made to define collective identities in civic rather than exclusively ethnic terms, for example in relation to common urban spaces such as Berlin , as opposed to one single ethnically based unit.

    This indicates a distinctive cosmopolitan stance in that citizenship is divorced from nationalist exclusivist prejudices. Editions Quae, Flyvbjerg, B.

    Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach
    Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach
    Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach
    Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach
    Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach
    Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach
    Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach
    Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach
    Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach Building Cosmopolitan Communities: A Critical and Multidimensional Approach

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