Accepted Paper:

Enforced cosmopolitanization and critical cosmopolitanism at the Mediterranean borders of the European Union  


Michael Westrich (Humboldt University Berlin)
Regina Römhild (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

Together with ethnographic data gathered at the Mediterranean Borders of the EU, this paper develops theoretical thoughts on “critical” or “situated” cosmopolitanism.

Paper long abstract:

From the perspective of cosmopolitanization, "the local" increasingly becomes the site of immediate encounters with and struggles between the diverse, uneven processes and actors of globalization. The mediterranean border zone of the European Union can be seen as an especially cosmolitanized space: here, the movements of migrations from the South confront a transnational, Europeanized border regime, and here, the impact of neoliberal as well as neocolonial politics towards inner and outer margins of Europe are made visible and put to contestation. While these local complexities are causing violence, precariousness, and anxiety, they also foster "situated cosmopolitanisms" around the contested issue and the practiced imagination of citizenship.

Drawing upon a long-term ethnographic research at the Spanish-Moroccan border, we will explicate this perspective empirically. The data was gathered following a group of African migrants entering Spain illegally, as "adventurers", as they called themselves. From this point, we will take a deeper look into how solidarities, collaborations and (in-)formal belongings (such as citizenship) are negotiated in an extremely precarious situation amongst the group, but also at the crossroads with NGOs, social movements or Spanish citizens. In these local encounters, we can witness a continuous struggle between universalized "cosmopolitan" ideas and their rupture by neocolonial thoughts/practices of exclusion/racism. This calls for a concept of "cosmopolitanism" that is locally redefined from below "critically" or "situated" within a global design of power.

Panel W036
Vernacular cosmopolitanisms in an age of anxiety