Cosmopolitanism and the Legacy of Eastern European Dissent

Wednesday, 14 November 2012, 2:00pm - 3:30pm, IWM library
This presentation explores the relevance of Eastern European dissident thought and practices for the contemporary debates on cosmopolitanism. The core idea shared by all cosmopolitan views is that all human beings belong to a single community and the ultimate units of moral concern are the individual human beings, not states or particular forms of human associations. Nevertheless, the attempts to ground a political theory on overarching universal principles, inevitable in constructing a cosmopolitan theory, is in contradiction with the plurality of social, cultural, political, religious interpretative standpoints in the contemporary world. Aiming at a non-totalizing theory of cosmopolitanism, we might learn from concrete historical episodes of dissent how practical resistance to totalizing/hegemonic claims is generated. The answers to the questions concerning the possibility and practice of dissidence – In the name of what values were the dissents’ clams formulated? Are these values local, national, international or universal? What legitimates the dissidents’ permanent questioning and contestation of the given/imposed meanings in a political regime? – could show how dissident thinking and practice might contribute to new, enriched ways of conceiving the non-totalizing foundations of cosmopolitanism through the dynamics of contestability and disagreement.

Tamara Caraus is Researcher at New Europe College, Bucharest, Romania and EURIAS Junior Visiting Fellow at IWM (September 2012 – June 2013)