Publication details

Decolonizing Cosmopolitanism in Practice: From Universalizing Monologue to Intercultural Dialogue? CoLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 15: 39-65.


Author(s): Leinius, Johanna
Year of publication: 2014

Abstract: There has been a veritable upsurge in the debate on cosmopolitanism not merely as a philosophical ideal but also as a socially grounded concept denoting an individual or collective stance towards world openness. Postcolonial scholars, however, have criticized new cosmopolitanism’s Eurocentric and universalizing stance. Pointing to the impossibility of global conviviality in a world in which non-Western epistemologies and cosmologies continue to be marginalized, they have challenged the exclusions and silences within the new cosmopolitan project. Decolonial scholars have also put forward cosmopolitanism as a decolonial political project challenging Western hegemony. These scholars have identified the World Social Forum as a privileged site for developing cosmopolitan projects. Overcoming the binary polarization between cosmopolitanism as imperial monologue or as privileged positionality of the subaltern, feminist scholar activists have developed knowledge-practices for dialogic encounters that offer a reading of cosmopolitanism as emancipatory self-transformation. This paper sketches the tensions and contradictions of the contemporary cosmopolitan debate in order to scrutinize the Inter-Movement Dialogues, a workshop methodology developed in the context of the World Social Forum process, as a way of grasping the contours but also ambiguities of embodied emancipatory cosmopolitanism.

Keywords: cosmopolitanism; transnationalism, postcolonialism, feminism, social movement practices

Subject(s): political science

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