EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006


The loss of cosmopolitanism

Location Wills M
Date and Start Time 19 Sep, 2006 at 11:30


Olga Demetriou (PRIO Cyprus Centre) email
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Short Abstract

The workshop will discuss the past of cosmopolitan cities, and theorise the destruction and deconstruction of cosmopolitanism.

Long Abstract

Cities around the world, from the shores of the Mediterranean to the heartlands of empires, whether nodes of trade routes or centres of learning, have laid claim to a cosmopolitan identity. With the rise of nation states and the collapse of empires, this cosmopolitanism has become part of the cities' 'heritage', and relegated firmly to the past. The workshop seeks to explore the current manifestations of such cosmopolitan pasts: to ask what it means, to current city dwellers, to experience a city's claim to fame as loss.

Papers are invited that seek to address the following questions in particular:

1. How are such cosmopolitan pasts to be theorised in light of recent work on cosmopolitanism as an effect of globalisation?

*Are there definitive differences between past and present cosmopolitanisms? *Which features of cosmopolitanism are being evoked in discourses about the past of such cities?

*How is the moment, or process, of destruction, articulated?

*What is the political significance of such discourses?

2. What kind of power relations were involved in the experience of this cosmopolitanism?

*In what ways might the concept of European-ness be involved in these relations?

*And what kind of power relations are involved in its contemporary invocation and attempts at reconstruction?

*To what extent are transience, permanency, change or loss, structuring features of discourses on cosmopolitanism?

3. What is there to be learned from the analysis of the past of cosmopolitan cities for thinking about cosmopolitanism in the post-9/11 world?

Having considered these questions, the workshop will then discuss anthropology's intervention in academic discussions about cosmopolitanism and possibilities for future work.

Chair: Julie Scott
Discussant: Laurie Kain Hart, Costas Costantinou


Odessa's cosmopolitanisms and the afterlives of empire

Author: Tanya Richardson (Wilfrid Laurier University)  email
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Long Abstract

The distinctiveness of Odessa - Ukraine's Black Sea port - vis a vis other cities in Ukraine and Russia is attributed to qualities identifiable as "cosmopolitan." Today residents and non-residents alike insist that Odessa is "international" "multi-ethnic" "Jewish" "tolerant" but "not Ukrainian." Yet, the 19th century "cosmopolitan" Odessa documented by historians was radically transformed by the cataclysms of 20th century history. The city lost half its population as a result of revolution and civil war. The establishment of the Soviet Union drastically curtailed Odessa's economic importance and links with the world. World War II annihilated the Jewish population that remained in occupied Odessa while subsequent Soviet policies deported Germans and Tatars for collaboration with the Nazis. Meanwhile Stalin's post-war campaign against cosmopolitanism targeted Jews and explicitly negated contact with, and orientation to, the outside world as a result of which Odessa's cosmopolitan past was, at least officially, denigrated and repressed.

This paper examines how Odessa's cosmopolitan qualities - both in terms of specific practices and images of the city's pre-Revolutionary past - have contributed to the generation of the city as an "other space" in the late Soviet and post-Soviet periods. By considering Odessans' cosmopolitanisms as manifestations of the afterlives of the Russian and Soviet empires, the paper highlights continuities and discontinuities in practices and memories through which Odessa has been constructed as a unique place vis a vis the Soviet Union and Ukraine. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in 2001/2002 in the Odessa Literature Museum and a local history walking group I illustrate the influence of particular cosmopolitan practices and imaginaries in subverting a political order and conceiving an alternative future even while the conditions for imperial cosmopolitanism have been destroyed. Using these examples, this paper examines how contemporary scholarship on cosmopolitanism stressing hybridity, diversity, and openness may obscure an analysis of the operation of cosmopolitanism in other times and the legacies of these cosmopolitanisms in subsequent periods.

Imagining the city: cosmopolitanist nostalgia in Istanbul

Author: Ilay Ors  email
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Long Abstract

For the last few decades, Istanbul is being presented as the historical haven of multicultural coexistence across a wide spectrum of public discourses and activities. Novels, newspaper articles, festivals, and exhibits are following one another in demonstrating how cosmopolitan a city old Istanbul has been, while utilizing a nostalgically constructed picture of the city for marketing purposes, both internally and internationally.

This idealized image of social harmony within an ageless multiculturalist urban system, however, has its limits, especially with regard to the issue of religious and ethnic minorities, as I intend to show by taking into account overlapping levels of popular debates, official ideology, and ethnographic insight. By presenting material from my fieldwork on the Rum Greek Orthodox community, I argue that these discourses remain short of asking crucial questions as to the dissolution of the cosmopolitan urban society through the displacement of various non-Muslim groups in the process of nationalization. I then pose a set of queries that remain unanswered through these discourses of cosmopolitanist nostalgia: What is at stake in these different representations of the past at present? How are the processes of identity-building in the city linked to the discursive environments in which they take place? How is the loss of cosmopolitanism imagined differently by different communities in the city; what are the specifics of cosmopolitanist structure as it is claimed to be unique to Istanbul? These questions relating to city identity become particularly important when considered within the political landscape of Turkey's candidacy to the EU and Istanbul's election to be the European Capital of Culture in 2010.

The cosmopolitan Mediterranean: myth and reality

Author: Dieter Haller (Ruhr Universität Bochum)  email
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Long Abstract

The unity of the Mediterranean as a cultural region has been discussed in anthropology exclusively by means of structural characteristics. The question if "the Mediterranean" means anything at all to our informants has never entered the discussion. The focus of my paper focusses is threefold: first, the discursive use of the Mediterranean as cosmopolitan, both in the fields of political ideology and local identifications is envisioned. Second, cosmopolitan forms of local social organization are analyzed. It also discusses the current boom of the term "Cosmopolitanism" in academia, stripped off cultural and social embeddedness. Using mainly the british colony of Gibraltar and other Mediterranean examples I will show that as lived identification and social organization, cosmopolitanism is not necessarily opposed to local ways of living