Call for Abstracts: 2022 – Cosmopolitanism

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This call for abstracts invites abstract submissions on the topic by September 30, 2021, and complete texts by December 2021.


After decades of quite critical observation, cosmopolitanism is currently enjoying increased attention and now seen as a veritable antidote to globally accelerating nationalisms of various hues and to new right-wing radicalisms and extreme xenophobic positions emerging assertively acting as representatives of a fictitious bourgeoisie platform. Which of Hannah Arendt’s thoughts can be brought to bear on the new cosmopolitanism debate?

Especially in her late work, Arendt reflects on the conditions and possibilities of cosmopolitanism following Kant’s pioneering reflections on worldwide alliances of nations in his work Zum ewigen Frieden (On Perpetual Peace), where in anticipation the Königsberg philosopher categorically rejects the notion of a world state, since it would per se amount to totalitarianism. The proposed and summoned cosmopolitan mentality seems instead to call upon men, each in his or her very essence, as plural beings. In a special way, the concept of cosmopolitanism has clearly always reached beyond the concrete political given but at the same time refers to it and in part is repeatedly dependent on it. So Arendt’s encouragement for the cosmopolitan idea goes along with critical reflections on the limits of the concept scattered throughout her work.

Thus, it might be useful to consider Arendt in context. On the one hand, this refers to all the other elements she dealt with that are connected to cosmopolitanism–such as the panorama of world concepts ranging from worldliness to worldlessness, the relationality of citizen, state and world citizenship, of plurality and cosmopolitanism, of migration, strangeness, statelessness and cosmopolitanism, human dignity, human rights and world citizenship, or the interrelationship between democracy, sovereign nation states, globalization, universalism, postcolonialism and cosmopolitanism. On the other hand, of course, it also concerns Arendt’s attitude to the approaches of her contemporaries or, in a current perspective, the question of her position vis-à-vis contemporary statements on the topic: What do Simone Weil, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir but also Etienne Balibar, Achille Mbmebe, Seyla Benhabib, Zygmunt Baumann, Nathan Sznaider, Chantal Mouffe, among others, think about cosmopolitanism and what can we find there in terms of an Arendt trace or perhaps even her signature?

In a world which–given the problems experienced in the flesh (e.g., climate change, scarcity of resources, pandemics; see also the previous issue 11/2021 of “Nature and Politics”)–we are increasingly perceiving as jointly but not necessarily fairly shared, there is a need, beyond holding on to the harmonious educational ideal of the polyglot citizen, for revisions and sustainable propositions reanimating this intriguing philosophical idea of cosmopolitanism that dates back to antiquity and that we might indeed take recourse to in the Arendtian sense as a way of living together with each other.

The more people’s positions I can make present in my thought and hence take into account in my judgment, the more representative it will be. The validity of such judgments would be neither objective and universal nor subjective, depending on personal whim, but intersubjective or representative.

(Hannah Arendt, “Some Questions of Moral Philosophy,” in: Responsibility and Judgment, 2003, p. 141.) What does this mean for cosmopolitanism?

This call warmly invites abstract submissions on the topic by September 30, 2021 (approx. 500 words), and, following consultation, complete texts by December 2021.

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