The death of vernacular cosmopolitanism

Daniel M. Knight*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The paper offers a mutliscalar appreciation of vernacular cosmopolitanism as changing across space, time, and networks of relations. Drawing on observations from the UK and Greece, I argue for an expanded understanding of vernacular cosmopolitanism to incorporate everyday appreciations of multiculturalism, tolerance, and social liberalism that are produced within specific socio-historical contexts. Proposing a theory of ‘timespace’ where epochs are structured by networks of potential relations, affects, bureaucracies, and prevailing ideologies that guide individual and collective actions, I argue that vernacular cosmopolitanism is no longer a prominent worldview in Western democracies. Freedoms to fully realise cosmopolitan ideals are intimately entwined with the structures and affects of a timespace, which gives momentum to, provides guidance, and inherently opens and closes doors to the types of life that can be pursued. In the UK and Greece, current affective structures present people with vastly different projects, recommended paths, and futures to aspire to. With the sharp turn to the right in the post-truth age, vernacular cosmopolitanism has receded at the grassroots level. I thus propose that vernacular cosmopolitanism is under attack as epochal change offers alternate prevailing worldviews.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalAnthropological Forum
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date13 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jun 2023


  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Populism
  • Timespace
  • United Kingdom
  • Greece


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