Abstracts for Lecture #19

Cosmopolitanism and territoriality: reflections on strangers and citizens

John Rundell

The aim of this paper is to explore the issue of cosmopolitanism through the assumed inter-changeability of the stranger and the outsider. The classical (Greco-Roman) history of cosmopolitanism is the history of the ideal of being a ‘citizen of the world’ or ‘citizen of the cosmos’ as against merely being a citizen of a city state or an empire, notwithstanding how cosmopolitan some city states and empires in the classical period were. It is also the history of hospitality towards strangers tied to the plight of excommunication and exile. It still carries these two meanings in modernity. Yet, the meaning of ‘world citizen’ changes to a more overtly political category concerned with trans-state institutional arrangements, buttressed by a continuing Enlightenment inspired ideal or horizon of humankind. It is this ideal that informs the notion of hospitality towards outsiders, if it exists at all.

What also changes is the notion and experience of the stranger, especially when it is placed in the context of the modern configuration of citizenship, rather than ‘citizen of the world’. There have been at least four predominant approaches and perspectives for addressing, thinking and ordering the contingency of modern mobility and contingent strangerhood. These approaches and perspectives are indicative of cleavages and tensions within the modern notion of citizenship and the ways that it is constituted in order to solve the issue of the location and identity of contingent strangers. These types are national-juridical citizenship, political-public citizenshipeconomic-social citizenship, and cosmopolitan citizenship.

Love’s Habitation: A Search

Mitch Taylor

Does romantic love have a home in the modern world? Recent accounts of contemporary intimacy suggest that the macro-social currents of modernization place love into a condition of cultural decline. The old tropes of l’amour passion are said to be beset by the quantitative logic of the market place, transformed by the requirements of democratic sobriety, undercut by new forms of atomistic individualism, or drained of meaning by a society whose experience of romantic life oscillates between disenchanted cynicism and vacuous sentimentality. In challenging these narratives, this lecture seeks to weld new insights within sociological systems theory to the wealth of empirical research which complicates the speculative pessimism of critical thought. Attuned to love’s historical complexity, contemporary diversity, and fundamental importance for a theory of modern society, it attempts to uncover the ways in which our search for love, whether theoretical and personal, turns up surprises which demand a more nuanced account of both intimate life and the society in which it is staged.


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