Intensive seminar “Cosmopolitan Anthropology”

Intensive graduate seminar/workshop

Cosmopolitan Anthropology
January 14–15, 2015, University of Tartu, Estonia

3–4 ECTS credits

Would it be possible to seriously think about a humanity without frontiers? This intensive seminar will introduce and contemplate the role of cosmopolitanism as a theory of human being, and as a methodology that cuts across disciplines engaged with the current issues of mobility, egalitarianism or free choice of identity. The cosmopolitan project seeks an alternative to constraining classifications and coercive communitarianism such as nationalism or ‘culturalism’. The proposed orientation to the world endeavours to emancipate the individual and the human from symbols and structures that collectivize, homogenize and totalize.

Paul Rabinow (1986): Let us define cosmopolitanism as an ethos of macro-interdependencies, with an acute consciousness (often forced upon people) of the inescapabilities and particularities of places, characters, historical trajectories and fates. The ethos of cosmopolitanism is highly attentive to and respectful of difference but also wary of the tendency for differences to become essentialized.

Pnina Werbner (2008): Cosmopolitanism is about reaching out across cultural differences through dialogue, aesthetic enjoyment, and respect; of living together with difference. Cosmopolitanism is something that emerges from cross-cultural debate: a dialogical, collective creation grounded in a sensibility of hospitality and openness to difference.

Nigel Rapport (2012): Cosmopolitanism offers an alternative to multiculturalism, a different vision of identity, belonging, solidarity and justice, that avoids the seemingly intractable character of identity politics: it identifies samenesses of the human condition that underlie the surface differences of history, culture and society, nation, ethnicity, religion, class and gender.

This seminar is tacitly building on the interrelationship between anthropology and other academic fields. Anthropological thought and its methodology have augmented manifold research but its methods are likewise challenged by new intellectual developments.

The forum is convened by Prof Kristin Kuutma (University of Tartu), Prof Patrick Laviolette (Tallinn University) and Ass. Prof. Carlo Cubero (Tallinn University).

Invited speakers include:

Prof Nigel Rapport (University of St. Andrews, School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies) specializing in cosmopolitanism and liberalism, individuality, universalism, humanism and freedom.

Dr Huon Wardle (University of St. Andrews, Centre of Cosmopolitan Studies) specializing in cosmopolitanism and modernity, urbanism, creolization, selfhood, adventure and imagination.

Dr Andrew Irving (University of Manchester, Granada Centre of Visual Anthropology) specializing in cosmopolitanism and phenomenology and issues of health and embodiment.


Seminar consists of lectures and discussions conducted by guest lecturers, and roundtable discussions (requires previous preparation). Students are expected to do preparatory reading, participate in the full study programme, and submit a symposium diary (this can be a reflexion or summary of presentations most relevant to the student, about 1500 words) by January 30th, 2015.

ECTS points will be awarded on the following conditions:

3 ECTS on participation in the full seminar programme and
+ 1 ECTS on completion of a short symposium diary.

Requirements for participation

Interested graduate students can apply for the seminar by sending a short introduction specifying their education and research interests to by December 17th, 2014.

The working language of the seminar is English. Participation in the course is free of charge; accommodation and travel costs of the students of GSCSA will be reimbursed.

The event is supported by the European Union Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund (Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts & Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory).