As part of FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects, 18–24 March 2013 at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, art critic, poet, and curator Ranjit Hoskote convened a forum on “Insurgent Cosmpolitanism” with cultural theorists and artists whose work addresses and performs the insurgent cosmopolitan condition. “Insurgent Cosmpolitanism” retrieves the ideal of cosmopolitanism in an active, critical, and insurgent mode: asserting the rights of the citizen to evolve new socialities, associations, and forms of representation that cut transversely across the definitions laid down and the boundaries sanctioned by state institutions.
As a worldview or way of being, cosmopolitanism has long been open to the charge of being unanchored with respect to a commitment to a specific national or regional reality. The notion of insurgent cosmopolitanism locates itself in opposition to the idea of a universal, normatively dictated “global culture,” to which the cosmopolitan supposedly subscribes. Here, on the contrary, the cosmopolitan moment is located in the uncertainty, surprise, curiosity, and receptivity that attend the heuristic releasement of the self to the Other, on the basis of perceived affinities of predicament, yet in the awareness of radical differences. Such encounters among disparate subjectivities produce a multi-local sense of belonging, and allow citizens of postcolonial societies to transit from a territorially bounded sense of national space to a post-national cultural latitude. They also permit a dissolution of the dogma of “rootedness” through the mode of critical yet empathetic regard towards one’s location in a society or nation-state. Film theorist, writer, and curator Rasha Salti engages with Ranjit Hoskote on these subjects in a conversation title “Radical Encounters.”