Environmental Cosmopolitans

in Nature and Culture

Cosmopolitanism has become a rediscovered conceptual frontier within the social sciences. It has emerged in the space for relational thinking about contemporary movements of people and ideas beyond old societal boundaries, as an alternative to the homogenizing implications carried by globalization. It forefronts new cross-territorial contexts of encounter attending to samenesses and differences among people, places, and the nonhuman, presenting new kinds of translocal issues for anthropologists of the environment. While cosmopolitanism draws historically on aspects of Enlightenment universalist rationalism, current applications of the term forefront an empathy and respect for other people’s cultures and values. This is frequently drawn into a distinction between “normative” and “cultural” cosmopolitanisms. The first Kantian sense involves a context-transcendent level of ethical principles with general validity, while the second is about taking cognizance of difference and invokes some positive tolerance of multiplicity and appreciation of others. In both cases there is a sense of a projected “ethical horizon” (Werbner 2008).

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