ASA06: Cosmopolitanism and Anthropology

Keynote Speaker, 11.15am - 12.15pm

There Never Was a West: Democracy as a form of interstitial cosmopolitanism
Professor David Graeber, Yale University: There Never Was a West: Democracy as a form of interstitial cosmopolitanism

Introduced by John Gledhill

This paper sets out to examine the peculiar notion that democracy is somehow inherently associated with an entity referred to as "the West". The latter is a profoundly incoherent notion and the world looks far more interesting without it. It allows us, for example, to see modern republican forms of government (usually labeled 'democracies') as cosmopolitan amalgams of Native American, African, and Chinese influences, and democracy itself as an essentially intersticial phenomenon in history whose rhetoric is periodically adopted by elites under unusual circumstances.

(Paper)

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