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).
The global 'cosmopolitan' tiger, as opposed to the local 'Sundarbans tiger', has become the rallying point for urbanites' concerns for wildlife protection globally. In this piece, I look at two different representations of tigers in recent history, one colonial and the other national. This so as to highlight how representations, even of wild animals, are ultimately linked to power. This leads me to argue how today's Western-dominated ideas about tigers (a view I call 'cosmopolitan') ultimately act to the detriment of 'other' tigers because these do not allow for an engagement with alternative ways of understanding animals and wildlife. Such images, I try to show using Descola's arguments about nature and understandings of it, in turn perpetrates the coercive and unequal relationship between, in this case, those who partake of the 'cosmopolitan' tiger view versus those who live with 'wild' tigers.
This paper explores the rights-based cosmopolitanism of French anti-GM activists and their challenge to the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of the World Trade Organization and multinational corporations. Activists argue that genetic modification, patents, and WTO-brokered free trade agreements are the means by which multinationals deny people fundamental rights and seek to dominate global agriculture. Through forms of protest, which include cutting down field trials of genetically modified crops, activists resist this agenda of domination and champion the rights of farmers and nations to opt out of the global agricultural model promoted by biotechnology companies. In so doing, they defend the local. This defense, however, is based on a cosmopolitan discourse of fundamental rights and the common good. I argue that activists' cosmopolitan perspective does not transcend the local but is intimately related to a particular understanding of it.
Environmental management in Australia has recently shifted away from local rural communities into the hands of largely urban environmental and government agencies, sparking an intensifying contest for the control of land and resources between geographically and socially stable communities and more mobile translocal groups. There are major disjunctions between the conceptual models promulgated in this contest. Highly specific, holistic, and integrative cultural paradigms of human-environmental interaction vie with an increasingly dominant technomanagerial environmental model emerging from global discourses and knowledge practices. Categorizing "Nature" as a separate, nonhuman domain, this more cosmopolitan approach fails, intellectually and practically, to integrate social and cultural issues into environmental management. Nevertheless, its proponents are provided with increasing authority by their relationships with wider agencies of governance. Building on long-term ethnographic research in Far North Queensland, this paper explores how local and cosmopolitan environmentalisms are contested in a particular ethnographic context.
Ravi K. Raman
Through a case study of an anti-cola struggle in a south Indian village, this paper promotes the conceptual treatment of subaltern cosmopolitanism in the contemporary context of anticorporate social movements. In this situation the multiple issues raised by a local movement, such as livelihood, sustainability, and human rights, sensitize each of the new social agencies involved, within and outside the borders of the local state, and help forge a solidarity network across borders with their universally relevant concerns of environmental ethics and livelihood rights. It is further suggested that it is precisely the new politics of ecology and culture articulated by the subalterns that constructs an enduring and viable future for social movements.
This paper examines the emergence in Sri Lanka of transcultural thinking about environmental issues as well as the activism it engenders by examining the role of the Anglophone Sri Lankan elite as the chief protagonists historically of environmentalism in the country. It also examines one of Sri Lanka's leading NGOs, Environmental Foundation Ltd. (EFL) as an example of the activism of this class. EFL's perspective on environmental issues has its origins in the transformations wrought by colonialism in the country's class structure and in the introduction of European ideas of nature to the country's newly emergent middle-class. Modelled on the Natural Resources Defense Council of the United States, EFL was a new kind of environmental organization in Sri Lanka and a response to globalization and Sri Lanka's increasing integration into the global economy. Unlike the handful of environmental NGOS that existed in the late seventies, which were essentially pressure groups, EFL was conceived, on the model of NRDC, as a public interest law firm, and drew on international models to frame its arguments about the application of the law in the cause of environmental protection. This paper examines how these various factors—the social class of the activists and the processes of institution building—shaped a cosmopolitan environmental discourse in Sri Lanka whose roots lie in urban Sri Lankan middle class culture as it emerged and was transformed during colonial rule and in the various discourses of globalization that have been drawn on by Sri Lankan activists to craft their own arguments.
Mark Johnson and Suzanne Clisby
Cosmopolitans are frequently characterized as living and perceiving the world and their environment from a distance. Drawing on ethnographic work among a small group of Western migrants in Costa Rica, we complicate this portrayal in a number of ways. First, we demonstrate that these people think in similar kinds of ways as social theorists: they too are worried about living at a distance from place and are seeking what is, in their way of reckoning, a more engaged relationship with their surroundings. Second, however, we explore the social context and corollaries of these migrants' attempts to bring together a putatively "modern/cosmopolitan" way of relating to place and a "traditional/place-based" way of relating to surroundings. Specifically, we demonstrate how migrant claims to transcend the differences between "tradition" and "modernity" create new forms of social exclusion as they, both literally and figuratively, come to claim the place of "the other."
This article considers debates concerning the contribution of anthropology to an understanding of vernacular and marginal forms of cosmopolitanism in relation to the environmental cosmopolitics of zoning practices in and around the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR), Petén, Guatemala. Zoning practices realize political and economic restructuring, integration, and fragmentation through conditionality and exceptionalism. The rationale for zoning of MBR territories evident in UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme and USAID MAYAREMA Resource Management Project have combined the instrumentalism of aid-tied development with a cosmopolitan appeal to the protection of the global environment in the interests of “humanity” imagined as an internally differentiated, and yet singular entity. As zoning practices have emerged as forms of conditionality placed on a range of human activities, they have been called into question by “Other” discrepant and cosmopolitan constituencies advancing different imagined relations between cosmos and polis, “environment” and “society.” The article considers discrepant zoning practices and related imaginings adopted by the Communities of Population in Resistance. Q'eqchi' perspectives are also addressed, notably with reference to the environmental cosmopolitics of indigenous religious practice. By exploring the environmental cosmopolitics of the MBR, the article argues that through anthropological knowledge practices, plural and over lapping cosmovisions and related vernacular and discrepant forms of environmental cosmopolitanism are brought into view. The task lies in grappling with relativization, pluralization, and complexity as these follow on from anthropological knowledge practices and environmental cosmopolitan zoning practices alike.
Peter Del Tredici
Urban habitats are characterized by high levels of disturbance, impervious paving, and heat retention. These factors, acting in concert, alter soil, water, and air conditions in ways that promote the growth of stress-tolerant, early-successional vegetation on abandoned or unmaintained land. In most urban areas, a cosmopolitan array of spontaneous plants provide important ecological services that, in light of projected climate change impacts, are likely to become more significant in the future. Learning how to manage spontaneous urban vegetation to increase its ecological and social values may be a more sustainable strategy than attempting to restore historical ecosystems that flourished before the city existed.
Donna Houston, Diana McCallum, Wendy Steele, and Jason Byrne
watchwords that present it as ‘approximately normal’” ( 2005: 998 ). Stengers’ cosmopolitics are different to cosmopolitanism ( Beck 2007 ) and cosmopolis ( Sandercock 1998 ; Sandercock and Lyssiotis 2003 ), which are two concepts that are more familiar