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Thinking Globally? The Idea, Ideology and Limits of Cosmopolitanism

Duke University, Dartmouth College

The idea of cosmopolitanism is newly fashionable, despite its association with the humanist pretensions and first-world exclusions of European Enlightenment thought. This essay examines how cosmopolitanism functions across disparate fields with varying projects and stakes, from political and environmental science to critical theory. How and why is cosmopolitanism such an important term for our globalized age? What are the possibilities and limits of this concept? How can we distinguish between a cosmopolitanism that leaves intact the privileges of the global elite and a cosmopolitanism that critically deconstructs those privileges in the name of a more just and livable world for all.

Keywords: Enlightenment, Kantian philosophy, critical theory, cosmopolitanism, globalization, transnationalism, world order


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