Crisis and Social Change: Towards Alternative Horizons

  • Michael Murphy (Participant)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Beyond the End of History: The Multiple Horizons of Watsuji Tetsurō

2014, 26-27 September
Crisis and Social Change: Towards Alternative Horizons

Abstract Just as Gabriel García Márquez’s ‘magical realism’ draws the reader into the magical through the everyday so too cosmopolitanism, in distorting the spaces and times of our multiple and transient realities, draws our attention to something strange but strangely familiar. In linking the ideation of an essential humanity and the possibility of critical transformation, cosmopolitanism offers us the opportunity to re-imagine our relationship to self, other and the world. It also claims to provide a critique of globalisation and the inverted totalitarianism of the neo-liberal agenda. However, by re-imaging the world through the prism of a homogeneous space and time and in reproducing the ubiquitous representative agent of ‘Western’ social and economic thought, it only maintains old ways of seeing the world. This debilitates the concept by maintaining epistemic and ontic dependency that demands the dislocation of the ‘other’. In this paper I outline an approach to critical cosmopolitanism derived from the thought of Watsuji Tetsurō. This will be done through the concepts of space (non-geometric social relationships), time and the imagination. What emerges is an account that moves beyond conceptual Eurocentric approaches towards one grounded in a relational social ontology and multiple horizons: we are never only social and we are never only individual. In identifying a cosmopolitan view of the world as being plural and ‘hetero-spatial-temporal’ it suggests that diversity, and theoretical resources, can be found in the world in spite of the homogenizing processes of globalisation. It also suggests that if we are to imagine political and economic alternatives beyond the pretensions of an end of history then we need to reconsider the point from which we imagine.This raises the possibility of grounding the political not simply in common goals but as being informed through the multiple ways that we experience our contingent, diverse, and imperfect lives.
Period26 Sept 2014
Event typeConference
LocationCambridge, United KingdomShow on map