HMKK03243U  From cosmopolitanism to afropolitanism - The history of a concept

Volume 2014/2015

Since enlightenment different models on how to construct what Benedict Anderson called “Imagined Communities” has been formulated, to connect the newly liberated subjects that modernity gave birth to. One famous, early, but still actual, concept is cosmopolitanism, and in this course we will explore its modern history. It is used in different ways and in different political contexts, pointing to a diverse variety of possible futures. In the course we will follow the concept from its early modern usage within Kantian philosophy over the 20th century, and to the rebirth of the concept in the last decades, as an answer to the unsettling of the nation-state as we knew it after the cold war, and the rise of the “war on terror”.


Topics that will be addressed during the course is the concepts western origin and therefore potential Eurocentric legacy – is the concept yet in another way to impose western power over the world; or does it have a universal/global potential; is it a radical, liberal or conservative concept; how does the emerging challenging concepts as afropolitanism change how we understand cosmopolitanism? We will analyse the concept with tools from feminist, queer and decolonial theories, as well as with perspectives from Human rights studies.


We will also study different uses of the concept(s): when, where and how is something defined as cosmopolitan – what are the politics behind the usage in different cultural contexts, in literature and art, in city branding, in heritage, in philosophy etcetera? This is an opportunity for the student to go deeper into a topic of her own choice, for an examining essay.


Literature (excerpts from)

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism. Ethics in a World of Strangers.

Paul Gilroy, After Empire

Immanuel Kant, Zum ewigen Frieden. Ein philosophischer Entwurf

Chantal Mouffe, On the Political

Achille Mbembe, “Afropolitanism”

Teju Cole, Open City

Taiye Selasi, Ghana must go

Type of assessment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 33
  • Preparation
  • 300
  • Guidance
  • 3
  • Exam
  • 84
  • Total
  • 420