International Summer School, University of Potsdam, 9-13 July 2012
The concept of “cosmopolitanism” brings to mind ideas of world travel, polyglotism and the simultaneous attachment to multiple places, as well as notions of hospitality, human rights and the love of mankind. Apart from such generalization however, there has never been much agreement about what exactly is to be counted as “cosmopolitan”. While some critics have discussed cosmopolitanisms as a particular and distinguished mindset shared by the elites of globalization, others have taken the term to denote a supra-national, governmental principal and universal right that pertains to everybody on the planet. And while for some cosmopolitanism is a philanthropic and humanitarian ideal (that often has a hidden neocolonial or imperial agenda), for others it does nothing but describe the material reality of global modernity.
What most of these characterizations share despite their heterogeneity, however, is their emergence in the context of a European Modernity steeped in the tradition of the autonomous subject and deeply entangled with notions of imperialism. Contrary to this Western tradition, discussions during the Potsdam Summer School Minor Cosmopolitanisms will focus on a range of ‘discrepant’ forms of cosmopolitan citizenship and belonging that have been the reality for colonial subjects in the past and have become the contemporary reality for millions of migrants as well as Indigenous people around the globe.
Our discussions will concern
- historical case studies of minor cosmopolitanisms and their commemoration,
- contemporary cosmopolitan practices ‘from below’/of the multitude/ the plural,
- Indigenous cosmopolitanisms,
- negotiations of postcolonial justice,
- and the minoritarian cosmopolitan condition as aspiration, imagination and the future.
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