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Cosmopolitics

Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation

1998

Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins, editors

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Eminent contributors look at the present and future of cosmopolitanism and its relationship to nationalism.

As nationalism and the nation-state have recently come under siege, a resurgent cosmopolitanism has emerged as a viable and alternative political project. In Cosmopolitics, a renowned group of scholars and political theorists offers the first sustained examination of that project, its inclusive and often universalist claims, and its tangled and sometimes volatile relationship to nationalism.

Contributors: Amanda Anderson, Benedict Anderson, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Etienne Balibar, James Clifford, Bonnie Honig, Scott L. Malcomson, Aihwa Ong, Jonathan Rée, Richard Rorty, Louisa Schein, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Rob Wilson, and Allen W. Wood.

Cosmopolitics provides a timely assessment of the new elaborations of cosmopolitanism that have emerged in the context of globalization and postcoloniality.

George Yúdice, New York University

Nationalism and the nation-state have recently come under siege, their political dominance gradually eroding under the strain of such forces as ethnic strife, religious fundamentalism, homogenizing global capitalism, and the unprecedented movements of people and populations across cultures, countries, even cyberspace. A resurgent cosmopolitanism has emerged as a viable and alternative political project. In Cosmopolitics, a renowned group of scholars and political theorists offers the first sustained examination of that project, its inclusive and often universalist claims, and its tangled and sometimes volatile relationship to nationalism.

Understood generally as a fundamental commitment to the interests of humanity, traditional cosmopolitanism has been criticized as a privileged position, an aloof detachment from the obligations and affiliations that constrain nation-bound lives and move people to political action. Yet, as these essays make clear, contemporary cosmopolitanism arises not from a disengagement but rather from well-defined cultural, historical, and political contexts. The contributors explore a feasible cosmopolitanism now beginning to emerge, and consider the question of whether it can or will displace nationalism, which needs to be rethought rather than dismissed as obsolete.

Intellectually provocative and erudite, this interdisciplinary volume presents a diverse array of critical perspectives, assessing both the ideal enterprise and the current realities of the rapidly developing cosmopolitical movement.

Contributors: Amanda Anderson, U of Illinois; Benedict Anderson, Cornell U; Kwame Anthony Appiah, Harvard U; Etienne Balibar, U of Paris, Nanterre; James Clifford, U of California, Santa Cruz; Bonnie Honig, Northwestern U; Scott L. Malcomson; Aihwa Ong, U of California, Berkeley; Jonathan Rée, Middlesex U, London; Richard Rorty, U of Virginia; Louisa Schein, Rutgers U; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia U; Rob Wilson, U of Hawaii, Manoa; Allen W. Wood, Yale U.

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Pheng Cheah is associate professor of English at Northwestern University and the coeditor of Thinking through the Body of the Law (1996).

Bruce Robbins is professor of comparative literature at Rutgers University and the editor of Intellectuals (Minnesota, 1990) and The Phantom Public Sphere (Minnesota, 1993).

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Cosmopolitics provides a timely assessment of the new elaborations of cosmopolitanism that have emerged in the context of globalization and postcoloniality.

George Yúdice, New York University