This panel explores aesthetic cosmopolitanism. It questions whether intercultural appreciation and circulation of artistic practice are the product of western hegemonic canons (perspective, the proscenium stage, disciplinary bodily techniques...) and their rapid spread through globalisation.
If the cosmopolitan is understood as that which is of the world - in other words that which is free from national, regional or local limitations and prejudices - how might we think of cosmopolitanism in relation to aesthetics? The history of the arts testifies to the existence of "masterpieces" with universal aesthetic appeal, not only because of their commercial value or status as fashion icons, but because they seemingly engage with "universal truths". In literature, Soyinka and Tagore won the Nobel Prize, Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Salman Rushdie's Midnight Children are references for understanding transition and change in the colonial/postcolonial worlds. In the performing arts, Shakespeare's plays, kathakali, bharatanatyam tour internationally, while hip hop, flamenco, and tango are practised daily across the globe. What enables these aesthetic genres to traverse cultural boundaries and gain universal acclaim? Is it merely the globalisation of Western canons of artistic creation and of capitalist production and circulation that creates the frame for intercultural dialogue? Is the distinction between genres of cosmopolitanism useful: for example, between "elite" cosmopolitanism referring to pre- and post-independence aesthetics produced by the aristocracy of former colonies, and "subaltern" cosmopolitanism referring to the popular aesthetics of Bollywood, salsa, or rap? Do we need to rethink cosmopolitanism beyond any opposition between high and low art, hegemonic constructions, and so on? Proposals engaging with these issues or others such as artistic pillaging or cosmopolitanisation through, for example, UNESCO's conventions on 'masterpieces' and intangible cultural heritage are welcome.