Cosmopolitanism Past, Cosmopolitan Futures: A Roundtable Discussion

Why does cosmopolitanism appear both an inevitable conclusion of humanism and also an aporetic socio-cultural endpoint at which we will never arrive? From climate change, debt crises, energy security, environmental disasters, terrorism, transnational social movements, the events that lead our nightly newscasts and drive policy demand a global perspective, and yet it is difficult to imagine a historical moment without its own ‘global perspective,’ just as it is hard to envision a future that does not foster planetary, or species, or global thinking. How, then, have cosmopolitanism’s boundaries shifted in step with social, cultural, economic, and scientific developments? The twentieth century sought solutions to global imbalances through formal institutions of international governance, like the UN, the International Criminal Court, or the World Bank. Today, faith in the efficacy of such institutions has faded and our collective response to global instability is more provisional, improvisational, and contingent. So, are contemporary responses more or less cosmopolitan than those that preceded them? Has the cyclical nature of institutionalization and popular movements shifted how we conceive of cosmopolitanism’s pasts and potential futures? Situated between inevitability and impossibility, this one-day workshop will discuss these questions as well as our collective thoughts, questions, analyses, and hopes about cosmopolitanism past and cosmopolitan futures.

We are soliciting both presenters and a participant audience for our roundtable discussion of “Cosmopolitanism Past, Cosmopolitan Futures” scheduled for April 4th, 2014.  Those interested in presenting can submit a (250-300 word) proposal and a brief bio to camille.vandermarel@ualberta.ca by March 15thGraduate students and junior scholars are especially encouraged to participate. These proposals will take up ongoing and new research: interdisciplinary work is welcomed, as are extensions of seminar projects. Presentations will be short (10 minutes) in order to facilitate the roundtable discussion with panelists and the audience. This roundtable aims to connect researchers working on the problems posed by cosmopolitan futures—for instance, international migration, sovereign debt, neo-imperialism, and corporate social responsibility, etc.,—with those studying related issues of the cosmopolitan past—such as slavery, industrial capitalism, colonialism, corporate imperialism, and other related themes—in one day of roundtable conversations. Coffee and lunch will be provided.
 
For the purposes of catering, please RSVP by March 15 if you wish to attend the workshop.
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