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Bruce Robbins, Paulo Lemos Horta, and Kwame Anthony Appiah

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479829682

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479829682.001.0001

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The Cosmopolitan Experience and Its Uses

The Cosmopolitan Experience and Its Uses

(p.116) 8 The Cosmopolitan Experience and Its Uses

Thomas Bender

NYU Press

Is the cosmopolitan someone who is at home wherever she or he goes? Thomas Bender turns this question upside down: the cosmopolitan is someone who is at least slightly uncomfortable everywhere, even at home. For Bender, cosmopolitanism is an unsettling experience that provokes inquiry into difference. Its demand is not only to come to an understanding of the other, but also to come to a new understanding of oneself. Self-reflexivity inspired by the encounter with difference is difficult, Bender acknowledges, and increasingly rare as public spaces change and human interaction is increasingly digital. So cosmopolitanism remains to a significant degree aspirational; it cannot be taken for granted as what our ordinary social spaces already give us.

Keywords:   difference, cognitive dissonance, pragmatism, anthropology, urbanism

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