Current Issue Article Abstracts

Volume 12, Number 1, Spring 2021 

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Removing the International from the Refugee: India in the 1940s
Ria Kapoor

This essay explores the reasons why India’s leaders removed it from UNRRA, and refused to join the IRO, even before the refugees of the Partition of India and Pakistan were excluded from the definitions of the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees. As the world transitioned from war to a new peace in the 1940s, India passed the 1946 Foreigners Act, which dealt with all aliens including refugees in India. This essay places an Indian understanding of refugees within global currents of the transformation of the international order as the first wave of decolonisation was taking place, highlighting the iron grip of self-determination in the discussion of all rights, including refugee-related ones, as the starting point for its alternative conception of the refugee.

Germany and Colonia Dignidad:: Colonial Entanglement, Medical Humanitarianism, and Human Rights Abuses in Chile
Katharine White

In the early 1960s, West German émigrés established the religious colony of Colonia Dignidad (the Colony of Dignity) in central Chile. This article chronicles the violence and atrocity that occurred at the Colony during the roughly quarter century of Augusto Pinochet’s military rule. At the same time, it demonstrates how Germany’s longer history of colonial entanglement and the Nazi practice of torturous medicine served as the underpinnings of the human rights violations that occurred. The Colony’s existence was only possible due to the long-standing ties between Germany and Chile. These same connections have rendered the legacy of the Colony intertwined with failures on both sides of the Atlantic to uphold human rights.

Dealing with Difference: Cosmopolitanism in the Nineteenth-Century World of Empires
Valeska Huber, Jan C. Jansen

Arguing that cosmopolitan ideas and practices have to be included in a joint matrix, this introduction puts emphasis on the situatedness of cosmopolitanism in specific periods, regions, and political contexts. It highlights nineteenth-century empires as central frameworks and breeding grounds of cosmopolitanism and identifies imperial and anti-imperial thinking as crucial to various conceptions of world citizenship. The introduction points to the campaigning for and enactment of rights and to the related conceptions of humanity as crucial elements of nineteenth-century cosmopolitanism. Seeing cosmopolitanism through the historical prism of the Age of Empire with all its contradictions and ambivalences also provides a framework for thinking about how to deal with difference in the present.

Dossier: Cosmopolitanism in the Nineteenth Century: Empire, Humanity, Rights

Cosmopolitanism and Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century British India
Claude Markovits

In this essay, I examine the link between cosmopolitanism and imperialism in colonial India. In the late eighteenth century, colonial rulers redefined Britishness as a racial category, excluding from it all those who were not of pure white British stock. This racial regime led a growing group of Western-educated Indian literati to adopt cosmopolitanism as an alternative strategy of empowerment. But their cosmopolitanism took different forms: some opted for imperial cosmopolitanism and sought a form of imperial citizenship; others found political models outside Britain, to inspire them in a struggle against empire.

Postcolonial Cosmopolitan Republicanism: A Conceptual Approach to Nineteenth-Century New Granada/Colombia
Francisco Ortega

This article employs a conceptual approach to understand the place and importance of cosmopolitanism for Colombians between independence from Spain (in 1819) and the ensemble of liberal reforms that were designed to end enduring social and economic colonial structures (1846–1863). While the concept of cosmopolitanism did not play a conspicuous role during the first fifty years of the country’s independence, it constituted an ineludible component of its early republican vocabulary and practices. Furthermore, Colombian cosmopolitan republicanism is best understood as structurally ambivalent in that it promoted inclusive citizenship while embodying a civilizing mission directed toward its own Indigenous, African, and mestizo populations.

Respect!: Edward Wilmot Blyden and the Cosmopolitan Challenge
Martin Rempe

Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832–1913) is regarded as a pioneer of Pan-African ideas and Afrocentrism. Blyden’s concept of the “African personality” supplied Africans with a history, an identity, and original skills, supposed to counterbalance Western ideas of superiority. Nor did he shy away from the propagation of racial segregation. Many accounts even denounce him as a Black racist. Against this backdrop, this article re-evaluates Blyden’s ideas about education, religious encounter, and humanity. I argue that his main drive was a struggle for respect: he campaigned to endow Black Africans with self-respect and gain recognition from Western people. Thus, Blyden’s struggle exemplifies the challenges in promoting cosmopolitanism from the marginalized position of the colonized. At the same time, ideas of a Black intellectual come to the fore that are no less illuminating than the European blueprints before and after Blyden that never lived up to the reality.

The Family of Man: Cosmopolitanism and the Huxleys, 1850–1950
Alison Bashford

This essay considers the biologist Thomas Henry Huxley and his twentieth-century grandson Julian Huxley as cosmopolitans. Perhaps their foundational shared question was how to comprehend human unity and human difference, both biologically and politically; how to comprehend humans as one. Both Huxleys insisted on the singularity of the human species, but as evolutionary theorists insisted also on individual biological variation and distinction. For this reason, they offer the opportunity to consider the history of cosmopolitanism alongside the intellectual history of thought on species, and on the species: Homo sapiens. They were both deeply engaged with the idea of human unity—variously biological, cultural, political—while remaining confident about their own epistemological privilege and capacity to pronounce on humanity as a whole. The history of cosmopolitanism is ill-served by attempts to pinpoint the truest, purest, exponents. The Huxleys’ flawed metropolitan cosmopolitanism was perhaps the commonest sort in practice.

Concluding Essay: Cosmopolitanism as Doctrine, Attitude, and Practice
Jürgen Osterhammel

This concluding essay engages with the basic conceptual ideas underlying the entire dossier on cosmopolitanism in a way that combines a historical with a sociological perspective. It distinguishes between alternative ways in which histories of cosmopolitanism can be narrated. It also comments on the normative consequences resulting from a concept of cosmopolitanism as “practice.” Further reflections are devoted to cosmopolitanism’s close connection with marginality, mobility, and exile. The relationship between cosmopolitanism and empire is seen as paradoxical. While imperial ruling classes have often sported universalist ideologies, their authority tends to be challenged in the name of rival universalisms.