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Symposium: “Cosmopolitanism versus Globalization”

October 23, 2017 - October 24, 2017

There is an increasingly obvious conflict between the culture of a genuine cosmopolitanism, originating in the qualitative creativity of local contexts yet in communication with a worldwide Republic of Letters, and globalization, with its quantitative anti-culture of commodification, cost-benefit, and publicity motivated by monetary profiteering.

Of this conflict, Pierre Bourdieu, in Firing Back (2001) wrote: “As Pascale Casanova showed in La Republique Modiale des lettres, the ‘denationalized International of creators,’ the Joyces, Faulkners, Kafkas, Becketts, or Gombrowiczes, pure products of Ireland, the United States, Czechoslovakia, or Poland, but who were made in Paris; or the Kaurismakis, Manuel De Oliveiras, Satyajit Rays, Kieslowskis, or Kiarostamis, and so many other contemporary filmmakers of all countries, haughtily ignored by the Hollywood aesthetic, could never have existed and subsisted without an international tradition of artistic internationalism or, more precisely, with the microcosm of producers, critics, and informed audiences required for its survival and which, having been constituted long ago, has managed to survive in precious few places spared by the commercial invasion. Despite appearances, this tradition of specific internationalism, proper to the realm of culture, stands radically opposed to what is called ‘globalization.’ That term, which operates both as a password and a watchword, is in effect the justificatory mask sported by a policy aimed at universalizing the particle interests and the particular tradition of the economically and politically dominant powers (principally the United States). It seeks to extend to the whole world the economic and culture model most favorable to those powers, by presenting that model as a norm, an imperative, an inevitable development, and a universal destiny, so as to obtain universal allegiance – or at least universal resignation – to it” (pp. 74-75).

The aim of this one day conference is to investigate, clarify and weigh these claims regarding an opposition between the spiritual heritage and “aura” of specific cultural cosmopolitanism and abstract commercial globalization, what Guy Debord called “the spectacle.” What can be done to resist the sedative complacency and compliance of global capitalist ideology and entertainment which, as Marcuse put it, “delivers the goods”?


Confirmed Participants

Richard A. Cohen, Dept. of Jewish Thought, UB

Joseph Conte, Dept. of English, UB

Sergey Dolgopolski, Dept. of Jewish Thought, UB

Tito Marci, Dept. of Political Science, University of Rome – La Sapienza, Rome, Italy

Deborah Reed-Danahay, Dept. of Anthropology, UB

Luca Scuccimarra, Dept., of Political Science, University of Rome – La Sapienza, Rome, Italy



October 23, 2017
October 24, 2017


Dept of Jewish Thought


508 O’Brian