European Sociological Association
RN 15 Global, Transnational and Cosmopolitan Sociology
“Globalization, supranational dynamics and local experience”
15-16 April, 2016, Milan (Italy)
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
One of the main challenges that sociology and social sciences face today is to understand how individuals, collective actors and structures cope with the dilemmas, tensions and ambivalences of modern societies embedded in supranational dynamics. This interim meeting of RN 15 on global, transnational and cosmopolitan sociology calls for papers dealing theoretically, methodologically and empirically with issues related to the transnational dimension. We welcome all manner of papers that deal with how the local, the transnational and the global are entwined and construct the meaning of one another, and how individuals, organizations or states manage this predicament for instance by emphasizing a cosmopolitan outlook or by cherishing local culture. We also encourage papers that deal with the current intensification of migration and asylum seeking in Europe from the perspective of local-global entanglement.
Within the conference (programme), I will give the following lecture.
Double Boundary and Cosmopolitan Experience in Europe
This contribution aims to open up the debate about national, European and cosmopolitan identity through an interpretation of Simmel’s double boundary dialectic: human beings are boundaries and only those who stand outside their boundary can see it as such. One of the difficulties of defining oneself as European stems from what could be called the “double Other” (intra- and extra-European) diachronic recognition process. Exploring the possible/impossible cosmopolitan meta-synthesis can identify certain traits of the cosmopolitan experience in Europe. Furthermore, a critical interpretation of the intellectual, aesthetic and romantic representation of a “Europe without Europeans” suggests that travelling to or within the Old World (North–South; East–West) does not necessarily mean crossing social and cultural boundaries. Therefore the cosmopolitan globetrotter might not be the best “broker of knowledge” in our globalized world. As for the mental life of the metropolis represented by Simmel, in a G-world even socio-psychological life might degenerate into a series of defensive mechanisms. The boundaries could become the walls of an overinflated self: a social actor who fails to mediate between objective and subjective culture. Clearly, a cosmopolitan individual can cross national boundaries. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find evidence of any real transcending of class barriers and physical rather than mythical divisions. It would appear that, if and when they do occur, transcultural travel experiences are not necessarily trans-social.
Key words: Boundary, Simmel, Europe, Cosmopolitan, Transcultural, Trans-social