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Huon Wardle

I draw out four kinds of cosmopolitanism called on in this volume – as a perceptual ability, as an identity politics, as a pan‐human ontology and as a transformative personal capacity. The possibility of ethnographic practice presumes cosmopolitan perceptual abilities. As an identity politics, cosmopolitanism falls into place as an object of mainstream theorising. As an ontology, it becomes the cornerstone of a future‐directed anthropological ethics. As a transformative capacity, it signals that cosmological enclosure is only ever a partial condition. We need ethnographies of cosmopolitanism to explore the compatibility of these framings and to test the paradoxes of scale they foreground.

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Huon Wardle

‘Character’ was a key term in the early development of Anthropology as a discipline – Kant gives over the entire last section of his to refining the idea of character as a ‘way of thinking’. Perhaps inevitably, however, its ideological career since then – as the mark of a kind, or type of person – has been highly ambivalent. In the Caribbean, though, the idiosyncratic biographical gaze has loomed large. This article explores the status of character in an urban Caribbean everyday, where the demonstration of character through ‘talkover’ has profound social effects. Where does character come from? And what is its futurity in a social setting where no one can lay claim to autochthony, yet where ‘gifts’ are foundational to the ‘respect’ someone can command? Character belongs partly to the past as ‘a priority’, partly to the future as utopian protention.

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“Windrush Generation” and “Hostile Environment”

Symbols and Lived Experiences in Caribbean Migration to the UK

Huon Wardle and Laura Obermuller


The Windrush scandal belongs to a much longer arc of Caribbean-British transmigration, forced and free. The genesis of the scandal can be found in the post–World War II period, when Caribbean migration was at first strongly encouraged and then increasingly harshly constrained. This reflection traces the effects of these changes as they were experienced in the lives of individuals and families. In the Caribbean this recent scandal is understood as extending the longer history of colonial relations between Britain and the Caribbean and as a further reason to demand reparations for slavery. Experiences of the Windrush generation recall the limbo dance of the middle passage; the dancer moves under a bar that is gradually lowered until a mere slit remains.