Mind the gap: Beyond a cosmopolitan imagination

Michael Murphy

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to identify the Eurocentric and reductive nature of accounts of the cosmopolitan imagination and to then put forward an account of the concept derived from the work of Watsuji Tetsurō through which to overcome these issues. It has been argued that in seeing the “category of the world in terms of openness” opens up possibilities for “dialogical imagination” which helps us develop the “the art of translation,” to empathetically understand global issues. In the first part of this paper I briefly outline the nature of the concepts of the imagination and the social imaginary that inform the idea of a cosmopolitan imagination. Here I highlight the Eurocentric, abstract and reductive, in terms of its social ontology and its transformative potential, nature of the cosmopolitan imagination as presently understood. In the second part I introduce the work of Watsuji Tetsurō though from a post-Watsujian perspective. I first outline the concepts of aidagara (betweenness) and fūdo (milieu). What we find, from a post-Watsujian perspective, is not only the irreconcilability of Watsuji’s account of ethico-politics to the liberal conception of the individual but that these two concepts provide a space for agonistic politics, the recognition of alienation as a constitutive and creative aspect of subjectivity, and a co-federalist account of (cosmopolitan) democracy. Having established the relational social ontology the final part of the paper will provide a post-Watsujian account of a cosmopolitan imagination. Drawing on, though expanding, the framework of the imaginal such an account accepts the role of social practice but it also stresses the critical and contributory role of the situated individual through which to develop transformative possibilities. The acceptance of difference and recognition of our interdependence suggests that cultural translation is possible without one community claiming to provide a privileged perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 12 Feb 2016
EventEuropean Sociological Association - RN 15 “Global, Transnational and Cosmopolitan Sociology” - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
Duration: 15 Apr 201616 Apr 2016


ConferenceEuropean Sociological Association - RN 15 “Global, Transnational and Cosmopolitan Sociology”

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