Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

East of Cosmopolis: The world citizen and the paradox of the undocumented

Ämne: Idéhistoria
Projektledare: Rebecka Lettevall
Startår: 2010
Projekttyp: Projekt

The main purpose 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 conceptual history formulated by the later Koselleck as well as from Gadamer’s theory of effective history (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, the 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 concepts above, might be considered a real threat to the state, and thus a legitimate object for espionage, not least during the Cold War, when the world citizen movement was looked upon as linked to the Soviet Union. This is analyzed in a third section. The project’s fourth section completes the representation by an analysis of the late-Soviet attempt to create a global peace policy on the basis of certain readings of the universal and the particular.

The cosmopolitical currents during the Soviet 1960’s and 1980’s 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 the 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 a cosmopolitan position.

Final report - Rebecka Lettevall - East of Cosmopolis: The World Citizen and the paradox of the sans-papiers