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Updated on August 5, 2015

Critical response paper about Cosmopolitanism

“Introduction: Conceiving Cosmopolitanism” is a conceptual theoretical article about the concept of Cosmopolitanism by Steven Vertovec and Robin Cohen. The concept, cosmopolitanism, refers here by “re-emerging cosmopolitanism” that shows cosmopolitanism has been started from ancient period and now that emerge again in the world and recently this re-emerging cosmopolitanism makes a great issue in social science and political science. They acclaimed that the main theme of this re-emerging cosmopolitanism is “middle-path alternatives between ethnocentric nationalism particularistic multiculturalism” that shows cosmopolitanism makes a person to stand or belong to in-between of his/her ethnic or local culture where s/he born and other culture where s/he travel physically or mentally. (1) For example, Peema Andalib born in Bangladesh she traveled different countries and she draws post modern painting with the view of the whole world. Her ideas not only belong in Bangladesh but also belong in the whole Post Modern art world. This cosmopolitanism refers varies ways by varies theorist such as, global democracy, world citizenship, new transnational framework, post identity politics, socio cultural process or individual behavior. Though cosmopolitanism was clarified in varies ways by varies theorist but they gave the same opinion that “Globalization, nationalism, migration, multiculturalism … feminism … secular protest” are the main cause of cosmopolitanism. (1) This paper will focus about who are the cosmopolitans and the six perspective of cosmopolitan from the article.

The article stars with different kind of cosmopolitan that exist in the world and how deferent theorist define different cosmopolitanism and then they start to explain about who are the cosmopolitans In ancient time people believe that only ‘elite’ can be cosmopolitan due to their availability of traveling and learning other language. But the recent concept of cosmopolitans refers that “man and women from different origins create a society where diversity is accepted [and] rendered ordinary”. (5) This quote clarify that cosmopolitan doesn’t need to be always elite but they need the acceptance to take everything as usual or as average. If someone cannot sense (physically or visually) different culture this acceptance can’t be acquired. To create this type of diversified acceptance cosmopolitan need to experience the diversity physically or sensually. However, why cosmopolitan need to create a diversified society? The answer is that they really don’t belong to their origin or any tradition because their flows of life don’t across only one local tradition. For example, AUW student Bayan came to AUW (Chittagong, Bangladesh) 4 years before from Israel (Palestine). After 3 years later when she went to her country, she observed building, people, culture, rituals had been changed within that 3 years but she psychologically lived in 3 years previous culture. Again when she came to Chittagong she felt she didn’t belong to Chittagoinan Culture. Therefore, this kind of women makes a diversity acceptance tolerant society in Asian University for Women to establish their subjectivity. To read the quote one question raise my mind, cosmopolitans are bound to be accepted or chose to be accepted or both?

Six Perspectives on Cosmopolitanism: Steven Vertovec and Robin Cohen argued about six perspectives in “Introduction: Conceiving Cosmopolitanism”. They perceive cosmopolitanism within these six perspectives.

A Socio-Cultural Condition, the first perspective refers socio cultural stand of cosmopolitan people. The article uses a quote from Smith that clarifies the socio-cultural stand point of cosmopolitan.

“There are cities, on the other hand, who are highly sceptical of what is perceived to be an emergent global, hybrid and ‘rootless’ cosmopolitan culture marked by ‘a pastiche of traditional local folk and national motif and styles; a culture of mass consumerism consisting of standardized mass commodities, images, practices and slogans; and an interdependence of all these elements across the globe, based upon the unifying pressures of global telecommunications and computerized information system’” (Smith 1995: 20) (9)

This quote explains that, Considering all human being of the of the world have same needs, cosmopolitans are always make question about their identity, their subjectivity and what they recognize to create a standard practice of life style. Therefore, they embodying the actual human style (what they perceived by recognizing) from different local, folk and citizen’s approach which will accepted by the whole world. And ‘telecommunication and computerized information system’ accelerated to build this kind of standard lifestyle.

Philosophical existence of cosmopolitan is refers in A Philosophical or World perspective section. Cosmopolitan claim about themselves that they are citizen of the world and human rights and justice is the patronage position of their world. On the other hand, communitarian think that cosmopolitanism is a superficial and individualistic concept that ‘embodies the worse aspects of classical liberation-atomism, abstraction, alienation from one’s roots, vacuity of commitment, indeterminacy of character, and ambivalence towards the good’. They raise the question how can a cosmopolitan devoted or to attach any issue of a local or a traditional problem? Can a person be philosophically cosmopolitan or patriotic together at the same time? Theorist of Cosmopolitanism give example of the participation in UN peace mission where they take decision how world peace can be exist. Again there is another question, if cosmopolitan don’t exist in any culture how will they know what is the peace of that particular culture, if they don’t practice that individual culture how they realize the way of peace for that particular culture?

Political Project I: Transnational Institutions section explains that how cosmopolitanism stands in institutional stand. There is one quote clarify about…. That ‘a layer of governance that constitutes a limitation on the sovereignty of stats and yet does not itself constitute a state. In other word, a cosmopolitan institution would coexist with a system of states but would override states in clearly defined spheres of activity’ (Kaldor 1999: 216) this quote clarify that, cosmopolitan institutes rule or constitute any particular state but constitute some activity or some specific issue of different states. Another cosmopolitan democratic issue is global civil society such as, the environmentalist, human rights committee, women and piece. Due to democratic issue of civil society theorist explain cosmopolitan from two ways; Cosmopolitan from above and Cosmopolitan from bellow.

Cosmopolitan from the above is a global issue of cosmopolitanism that refers international institute like United Nation, European Union, who involves with different culture and society and help different culture and society with particular issue. For example, UNICEF works for children of the world.

Cosmopolitan from the bellow is individual issue of cosmopolitanism that refers when individual get initiative to involve other culture’s such as social movement where different origin people raise their voice. For example, if a Nepali person rise to save forest Sundarban that would be seen as cosmopolitan from the bellow.

Political Project II: Multiple Subjects section, cosmopolitanism is explained from individual level and their subjectivity. How cosmopolitanism identifies them, what is their subject position, how they active in their subject position is the main argument of this section. For example, in this period of Globalization there are different kinds of identity based on someone’s education, gender, sexuality, secular perspective of belief etc.

. An Attitude or Disposition of a cosmopolitan is viewed as “… a perspective, a state of mind… a mode of managing meaning…” that help a cosmopolitan to absorb new culture. (13) It is related to someone’s willingness to participation such as likeness to be involvement. In this section this article explains what a cosmopolitan feel to involve a culture but not in clear way. This article talk about openness of mind of cosmopolitan but they don’t talk what things a cosmopolitan across physically and mentally to engage a new society. They don’t talk about the physical and psychological position and feelings of a cosmopolitan.

A practice or Competence, this section identify how a cosmopolitan get meaning from other cultural behavior. This article shows, “… cosmopolitan can be a matter of ‘competence’ marked by ‘a personal ability to make one’s way into other cultures, through listening, looking, intuition and reflecting’ as well as by build-up skill of maneuvering through systems of meaning.” Therefore, how cosmopolitan get involve into the source of different cultures. Though competency is not easily acceptable but in cosmopolitan state you can easily access or appreciated. For example, in cosmopolitan state there are a lots of business and a lots of competence.

In my perspective, this whole article see cosmopolitan as political way. There is no relation about human emotion of a cosmopolitan here. How a cosmopolitan feel about him/herself is not focused here. For example, they do not exist in any locality they are focusing on humanity. They have to accept because without acceptance they are not accepted. The author made the article harder because it is hard to explain cosmopolitanism; there is enormous diversity with this word ‘cosmopolitanism’ because each and every day emerging new categorize cosmopolitan and his/her physic and psychology totally innovative. Therefore to define cosmopolitanism is not that much easy.

In my response about Cosmopolitanism, it is the byproduct of capitalism (in consumerism view), socialism (desire to be healthy citizen), secular protest (entrance of religious and anti religion perspective), and ideology about nature vs. development. Cosmopolitanism changes their one’s body as well as mind because it’s related with one’s food habit, way of observation, way of see, way of talk, thinking process.


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