Research / Projects

East of Cosmopolis: The world citizen and the paradox of the sans-papiers

The main aim of this project is to discuss and problematize ideas and understandings of the cosmopolitical. Cosmopolitanism as an object of academic interest has expanded since the dissolution of the Soviet empire and the end of the Cold War. One purpose is to contribute with a new and instructive perspective on a discourse rather dominated by the social sciences through an analysis from the viewpoint of conceptual history, drawing on the later Koselleck, as well as taking into consideration Gadamer's theory of the history nof effect (Wirkungsgeschichte). In this way, implicit and explicit meanings of the cosmopolitical will contribute with perspectives on the contemporary discussion.

The cosmopolitical has an important legacy in the Western ideal of Enlightenment and its implicit Eurocentrism. During the period when discussions of cosmopolitanism have taken place, the understanding of the representation of concepts such as state, citizen and nation has fluctuated. This condition is problematized through a focus on Eastern and Western Europe and on Russia/the Soviet Union. The research on cosmopolitanism has a great deal to gain by including Russia and Eastern Europe. One of the theoretical challenges for cosmopolitanism concerns the relation between the universal and the particular.

This research project elucidates this condition through four sections. Within one of them, an interwar legal document, the Nansen passport, is understood as an effort to solve the absurd situation of citizenship that emerged in Europe after the First World War. The problem of undocumented migrants recurs in a contemporary discussion in another section. The idea of world citizenship, as described in the two sections above, might be considered a real threat to the state, and thus constitutes a legitimate object for espionage, not least during the Cold War, when the so-called World Citizen Movement was looked upon as linked to the Soviet Union. This is analyzed in a third section.

The project's fourth section complements the representation by an analysis of the late-Soviet attempt to create a global peace policy on the basis of certain revisions of the universal and the particular. The cosmopolitical currents during the Soviet 1960s and 1980s have without doubt set a mark in contemporary history, even though they might seem parenthetical in relation to the development of the last ten years in Russia, with its strong tendencies towards violation of human rights as well as towards xenophobia. This circumstance constitutes one of the driving forces in the ambition of the project to reconstruct different cosmopolitan positions.

Publications

In: Critique of Cosmopolitan Reason. Oxford : Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2014. 3-34.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject

Kristian Petrov

Rebecka Lettevall

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2014

School/Centre

CBEESSchool of Historical and Contemporary Studies
History of Ideas

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural Theory

Baltic Worlds 2014, 7 (1): 29-41.

The postcommunist concept of transition, as it was in use during the 1990s and early 2000s, is analyzed from the viewpoint of its intellectual prehistory. The concept is partly contrasted with alternative notions, partly relocated to its antithesis of communist ideology, where “transition” actually was an established concept. Via Hegel and Lenin, the concept’s logic of asymmetry and negativity is theoretically demonstrated. One thesis is that radical versions of teleological postcommunist transitology have unconsciously reproduced an essentially communistconceptualization of change that may generate new ideological biases and misconceptions. The reconstruction of the dialectics between communist and postcommunisttransitology indicates and responds to a need for historical reflexivity.  

AuthorPublishing yearSubject

Kristian Petrov


Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

No
2014

School/Centre

School of Historical and Contemporary Studies
History of Ideas

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural TheoryHistorical StudiesPolitics, Economy and the Organization of Society

Oxford : Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2014.

Since the Enlightenment, the definition of terms such as humanity, citizenship and rights has fluctuated and these ideas continue to haverelevance for contemporary discussions of globalization from a «cosmopolitan» perspective. This volume goes back to the conception ofcosmopolitanism in Greek antiquity in order to trace it through history, resulting in an unmasking of its many myths. The concept is reconstructedwith reference not only to well-known (and some lesser known) historical thinkers of cosmopolitanism, but also to noted «anti-cosmopolitans».The first aim of the book is to display historical perspectives on a discourse which has been dominated by ahistorical presumptions. Thesecond is to critically explore alternative paths beyond the Western imagination, redefining the Enlightenment legacy and the centre-peripherydichotomy. Most notably, Eastern Europe and the Arab world are integrated within the analysis of cosmopolitanism. Within a framework ofconceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte), cosmopolitan reason is criticized from the viewpoints of comparative literature, psychoanalysis,phenomenology, postcolonialism and moral philosophy.The book’s critical approach is an attempt to come to terms with the anachronism, essentialism, ethnocentrism and anthropocentrism thatsometimes underlie contemporary theoretical and methodological uses of the term «cosmopolitanism». By adding historical and contextualdepth to the problem of cosmopolitanism, a reflexive corrective is presented to enhance ongoing discussions of this topic within as well asoutside academia.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject

Kristian Petrov

Rebecka Lettevall

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2014

School/Centre

CBEESSchool of Historical and Contemporary Studies
History of Ideas

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural Theory

Ideas in History 2013, 7 (1-2): 5-13.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject

Katarina Leppänen

Rebecka Lettevall

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2013

School/Centre

CBEESSchool of Historical and Contemporary Studies
History of Ideas

Research area for doctoral studies

-

Europe-Asia Studies 2013, 65 (2): 321-346.

The aim is to present a conceptual and historical reconstruction of Gorbachev's notion of a ‘European home’, its underlying philosophy of history as well as its relation to Russian cosmism. The concept is contextualised within the convergence debate of the post-war period, in which a rapprochement between communism and capitalism was posited. The essay concludes with reflections on what the conceptualisation can tell us about the fall of communism and what impact the concept has had on today's search for a common European identity. An argument is advanced that the notion contained paradoxes that rather contributed to the dislocation of post-Soviet Russia from Europe.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject

Kristian Petrov


Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

No
2013

School/Centre

School of Historical and Contemporary Studies
History of Ideas

Research area for doctoral studies

Critical and Cultural TheoryHistorical Studies

In: East European Diasporas, Migration and Cosmopolitanism. London and New York : Routledge, 2012. 13-24.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject
Rebecka Lettevall

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

Yes
2012

School/Centre

CBEESSchool of Historical and Contemporary Studies
History of Ideas

Research area for doctoral studies

Historical Studies

New York : Routledge, 2012.

Whether in science or in international politics, neutrality has sometimes been promoted, not only as a viable political alternative but as a lofty ideal – in politics by nations proclaiming their peacefulness, in science as an underpinning of epistemology, in journalism and other intellectual pursuits as a foundation of a professional ethos. Time and again scientists and other intellectuals have claimed their endeavors to be neutral, elevated above the world of partisan conflict and power politics. This volume studies the resonances between neutrality in science and culture and neutrality in politics. By analyzing the activities of scientists, intellectuals, and politicians (sometimes overlapping categories) of mostly neutral nations in the First World War and after, it traces how an ideology of neutralism was developed that soon was embraced by international organizations.This book explores how the notion of neutrality has been used and how a neutralist discourse developed in history. None of the contributions take claims of neutrality at face value – some even show how they were made to advance partisan interests. The concept was typically clustered with notions, such as peace, internationalism, objectivity, rationality, and civilization. But its meaning was changeable – varying with professional, ideological, or national context. As such, Neutrality in Twentieth-Century Europe presents a different perspective on the century than the story of the great belligerent powers, and one in which science, culture, and politics are inextricably mixed.

AuthorPublishing yearSubject

Geert Somsen

Rebecka Lettevall

Research linked to the Baltic region and Eastern Europe

No
2012

School/Centre

CBEESSchool of Historical and Contemporary Studies
History of Ideas

Research area for doctoral studies

Historical Studies

Status

Started

Project Manager

Rebecka Lettevall
Associate Professor
Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES)

People linked to the project

Shamal Kaveh

More information

Project start: 2010
Project end: 2017

Financier: Östersjöstiftelsen

Research linked to the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Europe: Yes

Information på svenska

Subjects to which the project is linked

School/centre to which the project is linked