Postcolonial cosmopolitanism: making place for nationalism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay takes as its point of departure, the debate between cosmopolitanism and communitarianism in international normative theory. It expresses several dissatisfactions with this debate, criticizing its inattention to politics and history, its Eurocentrism, and the simplistic imageries of threat on which attitudes towards boundaries in the debate are premised. In attempting to remedy these problems, it recasts the figure of the subaltern that haunts this debate — hitherto imagined as a passive recipient of Western largesse — as an active agent struggling for emancipation, and contrasts the potentials of cosmopolitanism and communitarianism to function as vocabularies in which such struggles might be articulated. The chapter then turns to the writings of two proto-postcolonial thinkers — James Joyce and Rabindranath Tagore — who reject the conventional opposition between cosmopolitanism and communitarianism. Through a selective reading of their thought, it argues that rather than resolving the cosmopolitan/communitarian impasse, the tension between these normative worldviews running through their oeuvres, offers a protest sensibility that is better suited to the exigencies of subaltern struggle in the contemporary conjuncture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe democratic predicament
Subtitle of host publicationcultural diversity in Europe and India
EditorsJyotirmaya Tripathy, Sudarsan Padmanabhan
Place of PublicationNew Delhi
PublisherRoutledge (India)
ISBN (Electronic)9781315816036
ISBN (Print)9780415811897, 9781138660250
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2013


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