Cosmopolitanism is a concept with a variety of political, economic, moral, and cultural aspects and approaches, based on the basic premise that all human beings are, can be or should be citizens in a single community. Political cosmopolitanism explores the conditions of a citizenship without borders, balancing universal citizenship against citizenship confined within national states. It scrutinizes the relationship between local or national government and international governance bodies, such as the United Nations or the European Union, and raises debates concerning nationalism, ethnicity, but also xenophobia, migration, and diaspora identities. Prominent political events and trends in the world have recently manifested a turn away from universalist politics and multiculturalism towards narrowly nationalist attitudes (Brexit as “reclaiming British independence”, “America First”, but also the anti-migration politics of Central European states). The economic aspects of cosmopolitanism are related to the idea that it is economic principles that constitute universal citizenship. The global market is seen as the materialization of this citizenship, defined by the features of human consumption and labour.
From the meeting of “world citizens”, a plurality of truths emerges in a vast spectrum of globalized media that present “facts” and “truth” in the same communicative modality and with equal power as false information. These developments usher into the so-called “post-truth” or “post-factual” era. Moral cosmopolitanism postulates a universal community that shares a set of ethical principles, such as the basic principles of justice and human rights. This trend tackles challenges such as global solidarity, responsibility toward the future generations, environmental changes, but also the fundamental questions of cognitive and moral relativism.
Cultural approaches to cosmopolitanism focus on the idea of a globalized world culture opposed to the diversity of particular cultures. Globalization has enabled a great mobility of cultural capital and contributed to cultural homogenization. Yet, the resistance to these processes leads to an emphatic assertion of local cultures. Cultural cosmopolitanism deals with questions of cultural identity, multiculturalism, and intercultural dialogue. It also studies language, which remains one of the key defining features of culture. It explores whether the encounter with otherness is an opportunity to openness and universalism or a motivation for the rejection of the other and a defensive attitude of enclosing oneself within one’s cultural limits.
Our conference asks questions that cut across this spectrum of meanings. We ask questions related to cultural and geo-political identity. What is the role of language and culture in the expression of political identity? How is “world citizenship” defined in terms of race, language, gender, or socio-economic status? Is Afropolitanism a cosmopolitanism? How can migrants, in particular those from underprivileged regions, claim rights in the globalized world? How is migration linked to colonialism? What is the relationship between language and decolonization? When should politicians use interpreters? We also question the role of philosophy in politics. Can we preserve a moral ethos in politics? How can we, and should we, aspire to “truth” in the “post-truth era”? Is the figure of the “president-philosopher” a viable model for a politician of the “post-factual times”? Finally, we explore the relationships and interdependencies between globalized cultural manifestations and national, grassroots cultural initiatives. How does the “multilingual local” (Orsini) interact with “world literature”? Where does African literature in English, French or Portuguese position itself with respect to the global literary market, on the one hand, and to literatures in African languages, on the other? How are genres of speculative fiction, such as magical realism, sci-fi, or Afrofuturism, embedded in historical, economic and political conditions? What are philosophical discourses in African languages? Is “mainstream” African philosophy decolonized?
We invite you to explore these questions at the fifth edition of Asixoxe –Let’s Talk! Conference on African Philosophy, organized jointly by the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics (SLCL) of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the Centre of Global Studies (CGS) of the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The conference has two parts, one will take place in London, on 3-4 May 2018, the other in Prague, on 18-19 June 2018. Titles and abstracts of 200 words, as well as any queries, should be sent by 23 April 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org (London) and by 21 May 2018 to email@example.com (Prague). Each speaker will be given 20 minutes for the presentation, with subsequent 10 minutes for questions and discussion. We envisage a publication of selected papers from the conference. There is no registration fee for presenters and other participants. English is the working language.
Alena Rettová (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Michelle Clarke (email@example.com)
School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
SOAS, University of London
WC1H 0XG London
Albert Kasanda (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Centre of Global Studies
Institute of Philosophy
Czech Academy of Sciences
Jilská 1, 110 00 Prague 1