Journal of World History, vol. 21, no. 3 (2010): Cosmopolitanism in World History



Cosmopolitanism: Its Pasts and Practices
Glenda Sluga and Julia Horne, 369
Historians are returning to cosmopolitanism as a significant historical theme. This introductory essay briefly surveys some of the latest trends that mark this new interest, including its interdisciplinary influences and its focus on both cultural and political forms of cosmopolitanism.

Chinese Colonists Assert Their “Common Human Rights”: Cosmopolitanism as Subject and Method of History
Marilyn Lake, 375
This article about claims to “common human rights” made by Chinese colonists in Australia in the nineteenth century argues in favor of cosmopolitanism as both historical practice and subject of historical inquiry. It seeks to challenge the conventional Eurocentric—or North Atlantic—account of the history of human rights by pointing to arguments for racial equality advanced by Chinese political activists who forged an alternative tradition of human rights claims, articulated at the postwar conferences at Versailles in 1919 and Dumbarton Oaks in 1944. By investigating the ways in which Chinese Australians invoked the idea of “cosmopolitan friendship and sympathy” when responding to racial discrimination, we can uncover the multiple histories of cosmopolitanism as well as the advantages of a more cosmopolitan historical method.

UNESCO and the (One) World of Julian Huxley
Glenda Sluga, 393
This article investigates the idea of cosmopolitanism associated with internationalism and the origins of UNESCO at the end of World War II. In the first few years of UNESCO’s operation, delegates and functionaries portrayed “world citizenship” as the path to permanent world peace and as a necessary step in the evolution of human society from tribes to nations, from national consciousness to “one world.” A key figure in that history was Julian Huxley, UNESCO’s first director-general. This article argues that Huxley’s conception of cosmopolitan internationalism provides an important link between the history of postwar international organizations and a long nineteenth-century vision of historical and political progress and of imperial policies and practices.

The Cosmopolitan Life of Alice Erh-Soon Tay
Julia Horne, 419
This article explores the historical questions of gender, secularism, and ethnicity in relation to cosmopolitanism as a political discourse during the Cold War. By examining the early intellectual life of the Singapore-born Alice Erh-Soon Tay, whose citizenship traversed the British Empire, the new Malay state, and then Australia, the article argues that a history of cosmopolitanism must first tackle its own presumptions about the typical “cosmopolitan” as Jewish, male, and European. Focusing on the Cold War, when the language of cosmopolitanism had effectively gone underground, the article also explores how to track the concept of cosmopolitanism without the usual language of “world citizenship.”

East of Enlightenment: Regulating Cosmopolitanism between Istanbul and Paris in the Eighteenth Century
Ian Coller, 447
The Echelles du Levant et de Barbarie were French trading centers across the Ottoman Empire that were granted special trading privileges by the sultan. Naturally, their center was in Istanbul, where hundreds of French merchants carried out a large volume of trade across the Mediterranean. In 1781 those merchants wrote to their government to criticize the tight restrictions placed on their everyday life and trade by a new regime of regulation. Their protest revealed the currency of a new idea of the plastic and adaptable human subject, shaped by the cultural environment rather than by innate qualities: a kind of “cosmopolitan subject” that we may associate with Enlightenment thought. But they employed this conception in order to raise the specter of an “infection” spread by such adaptation, necessitating the exclusion of foreigners, and above all the subjects of the sultan, whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, from commercial activity between Istanbul and Marseille. Their protests were ultimately successful in scuttling the French government’s nascent free-trade policies in regard to the Levant. This article suggests that the legislative activity of the French state intersected in particular ways with ideas about cosmopolitanism over the course of the eighteenth century in the reconstruction of the nature of everyday life for the “Franks” of the Echelles. It investigates how these converging processes worked to dismantle the older Levantine or “Eurasian” cosmopolitanism that had been for centuries the basis for coexistence under Ottoman rule.

Jazz and the Evolution of Black American Cosmopolitanism in Interwar Paris
Rachel Gillett, 471
This article shows that African American jazz performers created a cosmopolitan diasporic network through transatlantic touring during the interwar years. Successful black musicians and dancers lived in large international cities, or “cosmopolitan pleasure centers,” to quote singer Florence Mills, and they performed in the international space of the nightclub. Most of them retained a strong sense of identity as black Americans and invoked their international experiences to criticize narrow racial practices in the United States. Collectively, these men and women forged a practice of black American cosmopolitanism that was transmitted back to America by way of the black press. Examining their experiences serves to interrogate and expand the idea of cosmopolitan practice, and understanding their experiences as cosmopolitan explains why the “jazz migration” was an important political and cultural phenomenon for the larger black American community at the time.


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