Cosmopolitanism as a Potential Theoretical Solution to the Challenges of Globalised Urbanisation

by Saeed bin Mohammed

Saeed bin Mohammed
Unit of Cultural Policy, Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

Saeed Bin Mohammed is a doctoral researcher in cultural policy at the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy at the University of Jyväskylä. He is working on a PhD thesis tentatively entitled “The governance of urban culture in the era of globalisation: an analysis of international policy discourses & Cosmopolitan case-examples”. He investigates this topic from the perspectives of cosmopolitanism and biopolitics.

This paper contributes to the effort to formulate strategies for approaching the challenges of twenty-first century “globalised urbanisation.” The paper hypothesises that cosmopolitanism might be seen as an option when trying to understand and resolve problems associated with globalised urbanisation within the scope of the United Nations’ Habitat III policy framework. In the context of the United Nations’ Habitat III (New Urban Agenda) policy framework, culture and cultural diversity are recognised as sources of enrichment for humanity and provide an important contribution to the sustainability of cities (UN-Habitat 2016:4). In addition, the policy framework supports the core aspect of cosmopolitanism through its critical perspective towards achieving a transformative vision of an alternative society. This paper focuses on UNESCO’s 2016 report entitled Culture: Urban Futures as an example of this idealised cosmopolitanism. Concerning the methods, I use cosmopolitanism as a theoretical concept (which, at the same time, is also used as a “methodological tool”) with which I frame and interpret my analysis of the empirical data (i.e. the policy reports). This paper supports the argument that cosmopolitanism is a theoretical framework concerning identity and citizenship in the contexts of “globalised urbanisation”: by using it, people formulate their individual and collective identities without binding them to a nation-state or ethnic groups.

Keywords: cosmopolitanism; culture; fear; hope; urbanisation; inclusion. 

The purpose of this paper is to develop a strong framework to approach the problems related to the complexity of the notion of culture in the context of globalisation and urbanisation. This framework is used to examine and analyse the question of “how” culture is understood in the modern age of fear[1] and hope[2]towards the challenges of globalised urbanisation.

As a result of the complex definition of culture in terms of the diversity of space and people, a mutual definition of the concept of culture is always represented as an agreed meaning serving common interests and peace (UNESCO 2016). For instance, UNESCO’s definition of culture follows a rights-based approach (ibid.). In it, culture is translated with respect to humanity in general. In this context, culture is conceptualised broadly as a way of life and narrowly as a creative base for sustainable urban development in the Habitat III (New Urban Agenda) policy framework. Delanty (2006:30) also argues that, in the cosmopolitan context, culture is a continuous process of construction as opposed to being embodied in a specific lifestyle. Following Delanty’s perspective, on the one hand, this definition of culture reactivates the idea of cosmopolitanism as a model of cultural policy and planning not restricted to specific rights and identities but instead as a framework for organising cities[3] socially. On the other hand, it represents cosmopolitanism as the multiplicity of ways in which the city is created in different modernities (ibid.:27). In other words, it is a socio-cultural channel of societal transformation based on the principle of “world-openness” and inclusion (ibid.). Modernity, in this context, refers to the transformative conditions and strategies that can be called cosmopolitan due to their plural and interactive logics but not a global condition as such (Delanty 2006:38). These definitions of culture are relevant to this paper and will be discussed in the section concerning the inclusion of others and specifically the subsection concerning cultural inclusion.

In addition to the above definitions of culture, the ideas of the cosmopolitanism framework have their roots in an effort to perpetuate globalised peace and common interests for all humanity (Delanty 2006; Held (2002) and are perceived as a representation of “global culture,” which addresses all these issues. However, the other side of the story has to do with how these ideas are understood and governed within the scope of nation-states and cities. In my view, the problems of translating global discourse and policy about sustainable urbanisation become complicated and challenging if they contradict national and urban understandings of what culture is or should be. In this line of thought, the analysis of culture and cultural policy within the cosmopolitanism context is rooted in modernities (Delanty 2006).

To conclude the introduction, this paper highlights the tensions within cosmopolitanism from different perspectives—mainly those of idealised, critical, liberal, justice and moral cosmopolitanism—and how these perspectives contribute to the construction/transformative agenda of twenty-first century alternative/imagined urban cities. Additionally, the cosmopolitan idea of justice is a cardinal point in this paper with regard to the tensions within cosmopolitanism, and this approach will be discussed in the following section from two perspectives, i.e. the justice of the relative distribution of goods and services and the justice of leaving no one behind. Lastly, this paper provides tools for approaching policy practices that go beyond cultural demarcation. 

Close Reading of UNESCO’s Document
The method used in this paper combines a close reading of policy reports and of research publications on the cosmopolitanism approach. The rationale of this method is to read the text carefully against its background and main principles, which can be reinterpreted as cosmopolitan. In addition, choosing the cosmopolitan theory and the central hypothesis for this particular close reading analysis serves as a basis for examining “the relationship that exists within the text” (De Castilla 2017:4).

This paper uses UNESCO’s 2016 Culture: Urban Futures policy report as the primary data for analysis. The report includes the following sections: Part I focuses on the global context, presenting the current situation of culture and sustainable urban development based on the outcomes of a global survey by UNESCO in cooperation with nine regional partners. Part II emphasises thematic reflections on the role of culture to (1) promote a people-centred approach to sustainable urban development, (2) ensure a high-quality urban space for all and (3) foster integrated policymaking, building on the power of culture. The conclusions and recommendations contain a summary of the key recommendations drawn from the results of the regional and thematic parts of the report (UNESCO 2016:25). The main arguments within the report are divided into segments of cases, perspectives and articles, which are grouped into separate parts according to the themes.

The report is also intended as a policy framework document to support governments of nation-states in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and, as such, it is a pivotal contribution to the shared United Nations’ action within the framework of the New Urban Agenda, which seeks to leave no one behind. Furthermore, it is UNESCO’s first report that investigates the role of culture for sustainable urban development. It seeks to examine the situation, trends, threats and existing opportunities in diverse regional contexts and to present a global overview of tangible and intangible urban heritage preservation and safeguarding, together with the promotion of cultural and creative industries as a foundation for sustainability and globalised urbanisation (UNESCO 2016:18).

As for the scope of this paper, specific perspectives in UNESCO’s policy report have been selected and analysed in line with the objective of this paper as well as its reflection on the cosmopolitanism framework and ideas about the inclusion of others as well as the Habitat III commitment of “facilitating living together…” (UN-Habitat 2016:11). Moreover, a list of the selected perspectives used in this paper is stated on page 15 of UNESCO’s main report, which was used as a reference in this particular close reading. In my view, these perspectives outline a global overview of the cosmopolitan ideas of the “city we need” (ibid.) as well as the processes of constructing an alternative society in the context of cultural policy and globalisation.

An Overview: Cosmopolitanism
In contemporary times, the concept of cosmopolitanism has become a contested discourse in academic and political debates (Beck and Sznaider 2006:2). Thus, despite the increasing volumes of literature on the concept, the meaning of cosmopolitanism varies depending on the discipline or the context. However, the concept of cosmopolitanism was first used by the Stoics. They were the first to call themselves cosmopolitan, meaning “citizens of the world.” The goal of the Stoics in referring to themselves as cosmopolitan was to replace the central role of the polis with that of cosmos, in which everyone could live in harmony and solidarity (Horstmann 1976, cited in Held (2002). Additionally, the origin of cosmopolitanism lies in the fundamentally moral view of a person having allegiances to the wider world, and it has gained political significance once linked to peoplehood (Delanty 2006:26).

The contemporary cosmopolitan idea derives from Immanuel Kant (Delanty 2006; Held (2002). Kant adopted the term pertaining to “globalisation and peace” (ibid.). He claims that cosmopolitanism has the symbolic feature of perpetuating global peace, where everyone enjoys the moral benefits of equality without discrimination (ibid.). Within this context, cosmopolitanism started to mean a world political community extending beyond the city in which an individual is born or lives (Delanty 2006). Cosmopolitanism thus became linked with the universalism of contemporary thought and with a political strategy aimed at global governance (ibid.). In this approach, cosmopolitanism represented a condition for a person to be “a citizen of the world,” and the reason for this was to abandon the immediate given and closed world of particularistic attachments (ibid.). Unlike Delanty (2006), Appiah (2006) argues that twenty-first century cosmopolitanism serves as a platform for expressing global diversity—the “duty” to live with all kinds of people in this world—and as an “ethical” challenge that humanity should respond to and defend. Furthermore, in his defence of “rooted cosmopolitanism,” Appiah claims that cosmopolitans are individual subjects who construct their lives from any cultural resources to which they find themselves attached (Appiah 2005). This kind of cosmopolitanism is opposite to “culture” as a particular way of life and thus refers to culture as a continuous process of societal construction, as mentioned above in the Introduction section.

In the above context of culture, as well as globalisation, cosmopolitanism signifies responsibility and duties attached to a “space” that is common to all, which goes beyond the geographical locality. Besides, space can be political, cultural, economic, environmental and even technological (online), provided it represents interests common to all. According to Held (2003), socio-cultural and political space serves as a term of reference for the equality and recognition of each individual and his/her existence, and the requirements for his/her freedom and well-being can be framed as cosmopolitanism. Following this, I will refer to cosmopolitanism as a multicultural-centred space for exchanging and living together towards the lived reality of a pluralistic society and globalisation. The next chapter discusses the tensions within cosmopolitanism and its connections to other societal discourses which are relevant to this study.

The Tension within Cosmopolitanism: Redefining Cosmopolitanism
The ideas of cosmopolitanism as a theoretical approach are gaining momentum and expanding fast, especially in the globalised and urbanised discourse of “justice and critical perspective” (Delanty 2006; Held 2002, 2010; McGrew 2004). The socio-cultural and political representation of the cosmopolitanism frame has perpetuated its moral signification as a “duty” that goes beyond the boundaries of the nation-state, community and ethnic group. Following this line of thought, I will start this section by highlighting the connections between the idea of cosmopolitanism and some societal discourses before moving to the tensions within cosmopolitanism.

To begin with the connections, Habermas (1988) connects cosmopolitanism to enlightenment. He suggests that identity should be traced to the world and humanity instead of a nation-state or ethnicity. For Delanty (2006:31), in the Enlightenment notion of the universal citizen, the cosmopolitanism has always been formed within the context of “travel.” In addition, Bohman and Lutz-Bachmann (1997) have pointed out that the existing political debate draws attention to the revival of the Kantian ideal, which is still a relevant argument in the present framework of globalisation, alleged crises of cities and nation-states as well as the need for global civil society. For Held (2002:3), cosmopolitanism is connected to social standards as well. He argues that social standards are a set of global requirements which all stakeholders, including cities, nation-states and economic, cultural and political agents, must uphold and sustain (ibid.). He further claims that these standards should, in principle, be applied to individuals, groups and communities either indirectly or directly, for they are equally worthy of concern and respect (ibid.). Rovisco and Nowicka (2011:10–11) also posit that the socio-cultural condition of cosmopolitanism enhances the celebration of diversity produced by globalisation, which serves as a symbolic feature for analysing the representations of people with different cultures and ideas in cities. It also contests the traditional discourses based on particularism, nationalism, ethnocentrism and tribalism related to urban cultures of the twenty-first century.

Additionally, the influence of international organisations on the cultures of nation-states promotes cosmopolitanism as a political project towards building a transnational institution (Pieri 2012:17). One example of such a connection is the policies and frameworks negotiated at the UN, AU, EU, etc., which go beyond the borders of a given nation-state. As a result of the influence of transnational organisations (such as UNESCO) on cities and nation-states at large, many rights can be claimed on the basis of human rights internationally, and thus, it is now more difficult for governments and city councils to limit rights to nationality and citizenship (Delanty 2006:30). In other words, membership rights are not entirely defined in terms of the community or city of residence (ibid.). Additionally, the above influences of transnational organisations lead to cosmopolitan citizenship. For “cosmopolitan citizenship,” the importance of territory and boundary that measure the place of one’s birth is always decreased—in the definition of rights and citizenship as well as in the lesser salience on a fundamental collective identity (ibid.: 29). In this line of thought, Benhabib (2004:174–175) has pointed out that cosmopolitanism is fostered by such multiple, overlapping loyalties which are continuous across communities of language, ethnicity, religion and nationality. These developments have gained momentum as a result of the “cultural pluralisation” invoked by migration, multiculturalism, cultural diversity of all kinds and the increasing demands for the recognition of different lifestyles and choices (Delanty 2006:30).

The issue of multi-modernities has led to a new conception of cosmopolitanism that gives precise emphasis to post-universalism (ibid.: 35). Post-universalism, in this case, is critical and dialogic, involving the goal of alternative readings of the past and the recognition of plurality rather than the formation of a universal order such as a cosmopolis. Delanty (2006:35) has called this version of cosmopolitanism cultural. In this sense, cultural cosmopolitanism is a multiplicity of the cosmopolitan project by which the global and the local merge in several ways (ibid.). In this view, cosmopolitanism would be mostly typified in diasporas and transnational modes of belonging. Such a conception of cosmopolitanism can be related to what is often called cultural globalisation, that is, expressions of globality that are demonstrated in resistance to the culture of cities and manifested in creative assumptions and new cultural imaginaries which, unlike earlier cosmopolitan projects in popular cultures, exceed those in high culture (ibid.).

As mentioned above, Delanty (2006) claims that the post-universalistic conception of cosmopolitanism should rather be understood in relation to the tensions within modernity. He further contends that the tension within cosmopolitanism can be approached from two perspectives. Firstly, the tension between the local and the global, and secondly, the dimension of cosmopolitanism entails more in the creation and articulation of interactive strategies of world-openness in which societies and cities are transformed (ibid.). In this context, cosmopolitanism is one of the significant expressions of the tendency in modernity (thus, in today’s Habitat III policy) towards self-problematisation (ibid.). In my view, the tensions within modernity activate hopes as well as cause fears in globalised urban cities. For instance, people from different cultures turn to love each other if similarities measure the focus of their interaction.

However, due to the limited space and the aim of this paper, in particular, I will limit the scope of the tensions within cosmopolitanism to how they problematise nationalism and particularism as well as promote tolerance and diversity as a strategy of world-openness and order. In this context, the focus of cosmopolitanism with regard to the tensions in the globalised century becomes critical when individual subjects and their interests exceed nationalist interests (ideology). In that case, all individuals and their lifestyles matter to policymakers and those entrusted with political power irrespective of their status in society. For instance, globalised cities characterised as cosmopolitan are those that highlight such a tension as part of their strategies towards world-openness as well as offer a vision of an alternative society that “leaves no one behind” such as the New Urban Agenda (UN-Habitat 2016).

Cosmopolitanism, in this way, is embedded in multiple strategies in which the local and the national is reconceptualised as an outcome of the interaction with the global. The outcome of that interaction varies depending on the context. For Robertson (1992), hybridisation and indigenisation may be the product of interactions in which the local appropriates the global or, in the case of “global diasporas,” local residents are transformed into a new cosmopolitan global flow. Beck et al. (2000) also affirm the ideas mentioned above: there is evidence of situations regarding the interaction between the local and the global where the global has magnificently imposed itself on the local. McDonaldization and McSociety are practical examples of such conditions (ibid.).

Also, with reference to the idea of critical cosmopolitanism, this category of the world is seen in terms of openness instead of a universal system (Delanty 2000:38). It is this openness that describes the cosmopolitan imagination and the transformative idea of an alternative society (ibid.). Besides, the internal challenges of cosmopolitanism include the developmental transformation of cultural representations arising from learning processes linked with modernity (ibid.:39).

In addition to the urbanised cultural policy described above, the tension could also be reviewed from the perspective of “justice.” In the perspective of “justice” as well as “critical cosmopolitanism,” Delanty (2006:39) has noted that the cosmopolitan idea is not identifiable with the mere condition of pluralism and attachment of individuals. Instead, it is more concerned with openness and societal transformative strategies (ibid.). In other words, this tension within the scope of this paper emphasises the call to reject the central idea of nationalism and particularism which acts as a barrier against the implementation of cosmopolitan strategies that encourage openness, recognition and living together without ethnic and national limitation. Moreover, it must guarantee the broader vision of an alternative society outlined, for example, in the goals of Habitat III (the New Urban Agenda) and UNESCO’s Culture: Urban Futures etc.

At this stage, I will move on to discuss in detail the idea of justice with regard to the tensions. In this regard, the ideas of cosmopolitanism focus on two principles of justice that are relevant to my study. Firstly, there is cosmopolitan justice concerning “the relative distribution of goods and services” (Beitz 2005; Held 2002; McGrew 2004). This type of justice has less impact on the central matter of this chapter. In other words, when it comes to the distribution of resources, the argument about justice presented here is based on individualism instead of nationalism, or group or ethnic alliance (particularism). For example, this cosmopolitan idea supports fair and equal sharing of resources (either goods or services) among natives and strangers without binding or affiliating them to a specific group or ethnic identity.

The second idea of cosmopolitanism focuses on the principle of justice concerning “leaving no one behind,” public welfare, happiness and identities. This type of justice goes beyond the distribution of resources as a means of being just and emphasises the content of the culture of nation-states or cities (Papastergiadis 2012) with regard to openness and inclusion. This type of cosmopolitan justice is more related to the subject matter of this chapter and is central to my research focus. With respect to culture, the content of this cosmopolitan principle of justice concentrates on how the patterns and expressions of people of equal worth and concern (native or others) can exist together with dignity in a way that encourages and respects affiliation to others and the transformative agenda of an open and alternative society. Also, this must align with the hope and aim of achieving sustainable urbanisation for all.

Cosmopolitan Justice and Cultural and Public Policy
According to De Beukelaer (2017:9), in this context of cosmopolitanism and justice, cultural policy defines the extent to and the approach with which a nation-state engages in the cultural life of individuals since this policy is a governmental action that describes what the government plans to do and not to do (ibid.). Within the framework of Habitat III, the goal of cultural policy is to leave no one behind, whether “strangers” or “others.” This bears a resemblance to Isar’s (2009:53) and De Beukelaer’s (2017:9) claim that, “at face value,” the purpose of cultural policy has been to ensure access to and excellence of cultural life which eliminates barriers and factors that limit people’s recognition as subjects in a pluralistic and open society. For Delanty (2000:39), the diversity of culture in a cosmopolitan way should be seen in terms of cultures being related rather than different. In this sense, cultural policy also enhances the interactions of all towards societal representations and transformation. Within the scope of this study, the ultimate concern of transnational policymaking is to combat the fear that comes with particularism and to enhance hope for those who have lost their sense of belonging and essence of existence. In that capacity, the cosmopolitan ideas of justice cannot be limited only to the global distribution of resources. They must go beyond that through emphasising the cultural content of justice in that sense. Benhabib (2004:3) claims that the cosmopolitan framework of justice cannot be restricted to schemes of just distribution on a global scale but should include a vision of “just membership.”

Another aspect of tension in cosmopolitan justice and cultural policy has to do with a newly created identity. According to Papastergiadis (2012:71), if the traditional state identity is rejected and replaced with a more diversified identity, it is a way of creating a space that differs from the void in which only strangers can roam. In this context, the creation of this type of urban identity highlights the tension within cosmopolitanism. In this case, individuals (both native and those affiliated to cities) realise their capability and potential through the process of gaining representation in laws and policies which emphasise the cultural content of cosmopolitan justice (Papastergiadis 2012:71) or becoming ethically ethnic (Pyykkönen 2015) and attaining a status of living in terms of global openness and inclusion as urban subjects without differences. Nevertheless, the state and urban authorities still have the power to decide who is a subject (a legally accepted citizen) through their legislative instruments. However, the cosmopolitan ideas of recognising everyone as a potential urban subject can be integrated through urban cultural policy as an alternative that aims to minimise urban problems related to particularism and gives hope to others, promoting safer and attractive cities in an idealised vision. This is also in line with Cicero’s (cited in Nussbaum 1997:7) claim that nature orders that every subject should promote the good of others just because they are human, and if that becomes a reality, then “we are bound not to harm others.”

With respect to the minimisation of urban tragedy and exclusion, the concepts of hope and fear must be visualised in globalised and urban cultural policy related to cosmopolitanism. The focus of this policy has always been people-to-people instead of national binding. According to Appadurai (2006), “the voices of minorities have generated fears across the world as they highlight tensions resulting from cultural changes through migration and globalisation.” Moreover, while they cannot and should not be ignored, these fears and tensions have created a context in which the problem has increasingly been framed as “cultural” (Beck 2004:432). In this case, I argue, cultural strategies and policies should be strengthened to handle the above problematisation by Beck.

To conclude this section, the above cosmopolitan ideas and positions challenge the traditional doctrine of nationalism and group affiliation as well as highlight tensions within modernities. For Beitz (2005:17), cosmopolitanism stands opposed to any view that limits the scope of justification to particularism, whether based on shared political values, shared histories, ethnic characteristics or state. The next section discusses how cosmopolitan ideas lead to the inclusion of others through the cultural policy of states and urban cities. 

Cosmopolitanism and Inclusion of Others
There will be no urban future—less so sustainable urban development—without a full understanding of the power of culture in addressing the social needs of city dwellers and their aspirations to a better quality of life. (UNESCO 2016:17)

As was noted above, the re-emergence of cosmopolitanism in the twenty-first century has represented it as an approach toward “a just society” and “a duty to live and tolerate others” (Appiah 2006). The question and power to include others lie within the structures and policies of nation-states and urban authorities irrespective of the international influences. According to Held (2002:9), cosmopolitanism has always been and is already included in laws and institutions, which has changed the nation-state’s roles in many ways, including recognition of and openness to patterns and expressions. Held’s account shows how cosmopolitan ideas have led to an increasing policy attachment of the nation-state, and how it results in transformations that are already taking place in the public domain/areas as well as attainment of the transformative agenda of an alternative society. In addition, it contributes to the effort of ensuring hope for all and overcoming fears of exclusion and marginalisation in relation to particularism. Cosmopolitan ideas have also been embedded in the policy frameworks of global organisations. An example of such a recognition is the UN declaration of all people as persons with “equal and inalienable rights” and as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” (UDHR, preamble). This formal recognition signifies a new turning point towards the implementation of the ideas of cosmopolitanism regarding the recognition of individuals in a pluralistic society.

Social Inclusion
Interestingly, the cosmopolitan idea of hope towards the future has to do with how contemporary cities formulate a transformative policy which tackles the fears related to the inclusion of others. In this context, the effort of living together with hope within a complex scope of diversity in cities will only be sustainable without fear if

Scientists, planners, politicians etc. should seek to understand better how current processes of migration and population diversification are linked to shifting inequalities and possible unrest, as well as to inventive and resourceful ways that people are learning to live together. (Steven Vertovec, in UNESCO 2016:141)

With regard to the above perspective on migration and diversity, cultural pluralism is one of the tendencies of cosmopolitanism relating to social inclusion. As a result, understanding such contemporary processes enables researchers and policymakers to analyse society as a continuous process of transformation and construction where individual subjects become ethically ethnic in a cosmopolitan way that involves openness and inclusion of others. The above quotation— “…people are learning to live together” (ibid.)—invokes the tension within modernities since people with different culture turn to love each other as a result of their interaction. Also, in the context of the above perspective, the diversity of the population in a cosmopolitan way can be approached in terms of cultures being related rather than different. In this sense, the element of hope that comes with the creation of an alternative society of openness and inclusion is fostered via a socio-cultural policy that improves the interactions of all irrespective of their city of birth or residence towards societal representations and transformation without prejudice and segregation. Therefore, I argue, the social inclusion of cosmopolitan ideas in urban cultural policy might enhance their public acceptance both in ideological transfer and institution building for the cultural and public-policy sector. In this context, Glick Schiller (2010:417) claims that society and cities need a concept of cosmopolitanism that deploys a critique of methodological nationalism to research and theorise situations within which individuals come to identify injustice and its causes and build on situated subaltern difference to openness to all struggles against oppression.

Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, has pointed out that

The challenge of living together in a diverse society could only be met if we can live together as equals in dignity. (Council of Europe, in UNESCO 2016:144)

Within the context of the above perspective, the inclusion of others in cultural policy through cosmopolitanism will ensure mutual respect among urban subjects and minimise segregation and discrimination against people labelled as threats and others. As mentioned in the previous section, plurality does not define the boundaries of cosmopolitanism or of living together, and if that becomes the strategy of cities, then the goal is shifted to “multiculturalism” instead of cosmopolitanism. In this context, cosmopolitanism is not about diversity in terms of numbers, but that which fosters such diversity, peace, tolerance and co-existence among the diverse groups learning to live as global citizens in a multicultural-centred space without differences. In doing so, it becomes a strategy for ensuring sustainable development in line with global openness and inclusion. For instance, globalised cities identified as cosmopolitan are cities that highlight such pluralistic tension with regard to “equality and dignity” as part of their strategies towards ensuring universal openness as well as representing a vision of an alternative society that “leaves no one behind” (UN-Habitat 2016). Cosmopolitanism, in this case, is rooted in multiple modernities as urban strategies where the local residents and the national are transformed as a result of their interaction with the global. The outcome of this interaction ensures the dignity and respect of living together in a diverse urban centre. In addition, this interaction enables the creation of world citizens who are ethically ethnic.

In this regard, the cosmopolitanism framework has become an antidote for approaching the urban complexity of patterns and expressions among different subjects in the same location. Therefore, the fight against racism and segregation, which threaten the urban inclusion of others and universal openness, will be won if policymakers change their methodological ways of framing policy and accept strategies that recognise the rights and freedom of others as people with equal worth and concern notwithstanding their affiliation to their city of birth or residence. The elements of generality, universality and individuality of cosmopolitanism signify that hope stands against stereotypes and divisions among urban subjects and their social representation as members with equal rights and freedom beyond national or ethnic territory. In that context, UNESCO (2016) points out:

whether fighting stereotypes about migrants and refugees, increasing participation in community meetings and events, giving voice to citizens in urbanism projects by using different forms of artistic expression, or developing new ideas for local economic development—arts and culture help to reach out farther, break barriers and build cohesive and vibrant communities. (ibid.)

From the above perspective and considering the influence of transnational organisations such as UNESCO on the migration and refugee policy of cities, it seems that it is complicated for policymakers, governments and city councils to restrict the rights and freedom of expression needed for recognition and citizenship to particularism and nationalism. The reason for this complexity regarding the rights required to fight stereotypes and racism is that people labelled as others (migrants and refugee, etc.) can claim many rights based on international human rights. This assertion, as mentioned in the previous section, reaffirms Delanty’s (2006:30) stands concerning the transnational organisations and how they contribute to the creation of an alternative society of openness and recognition. From a critical point of view, membership rights regarding the representation of refugees and others are not completely defined in terms of the laws of the city of residence (ibid.). Likewise, these influences create cosmopolitan citizenship. In this sense, the status of the boundaries that measure the location of people’s birth and thus assign rights, privileges and citizenship for its residents has diminished in importance.

Lastly, Glick Schiller’s call on cities to shift towards cosmopolitan thinking in their policies is a sign of resistance towards the fear of inclusion of others as well as of a victory in the fight against stereotypes and particularism in urban centres. In my view, the transformative agenda of an alternative society without stereotypes and racism against people labelled as outsiders is attainable if openness, equality and recognition are embedded in the socio-cultural policies of cities. In this case, I follow these perspectives in a way that represents and perceives others as resources instead of a threat to society.

Cultural Inclusion
As stated in the Introduction section, culture is understood in this paper as a continuous process of societal construction and transformation as opposed to a specific lifestyle. However, in the context of UNESCO and the New Urban Agenda policy framework, culture is understood broadly as a way of life for cities and narrowly as a creative base for sustainable urban development. In this approach, the interpretation of the above definitions of culture creates tension in cities as it highlights the cultural patterns and expression in multi-modernities learning to live together. According to UN Habitat (2016), urban centres should leave no one behind in relation to the lifestyle and welfare of their people. In this context, cultural policy can be approached from the perspective of particularism and nationalism, and the cosmopolitan perspective. However, this paper concentrates on the cosmopolitanism perspective. Furthermore, these tensions are rooted in the clash between modernities in a multicultural-centred space. In this regard, cultural inclusion is discussed in this section through three contexts that integrate the above definitions of culture with regard to globalised urbanisation. These contexts include cosmopolitan self and identity, open and public space and creativity.

Cosmopolitan Self and Identity
To start with the construction of a cosmopolitan self and identity, Pieri (2012) argues that one of the main reasons why people choose to become cosmopolitan is their passion for foreign places as well as their consumption of aesthetic taste. This is connected to Held’s (2002) argument and the Kantian idea of universal citizens as a form of urban identity discussed above in this paper. Following Held’s argument, cosmopolitanism is a space where the representation and rights of people are centred on openness and equality in terms of access to socio-cultural and political recognition for all. In one way or another, this cosmopolitan idea triggers the well-being and freedom of patterns and expressions for all regarding the construction of a universal identity or self as opposed to a particularist identity. In this capacity, the promotion of artistic or cultural goods of places becomes a means for creating an individual self-identity that positively activates individual openness to diversity and respect for other cultures. In my view, and based on the above, global cities with a cosmopolitan approach must be organised in a way that portrays these rationalities.

Additionally, the cultural policies of states and cities adopt this approach through international trade and the exchange of cultural and scholarly ideas (Singh 2015). Aesthetic and cultural cosmopolitanism is not limited to public space but can take place in private spaces, too, embedded in other forms of cultural consumption. These kinds of cosmopolitan ideas promote the artist industry as a creative base for making cities sustainable and put culture at the centre of the economy. For UNESCO,

[s]uch an approach to development that places people, their choices and their freedoms at its heart is particularly needed in our cities, now home to the majority of the world’s population. (UNESCO 2016:130)

In addition, the construction of a cosmopolitan self-promotes aesthetic freedom, which is used as an instrument for governing a free society as well as including people labelled as others. Such an approach also enables individuals to create themselves according to the aesthetic taste of their choice, which makes them more cosmopolitan even at a distance, since diversity and mobility are not limited to people alone but involve the ways cultural ideas, goods and products are transported from one place to another (Pieri 2012:34). Additionally, the exchange of these cultural goods and services becomes visible in a free and open society which creates a cosmopolitan self, identity and image for such cities (ibid.).

De Beukelaer (2017:11) claims that the promotion of methodological cosmopolitanism through cultural policy will ensure the sustainability of national identity as well as the affiliation to people regarded as others or strangers. This methodological approach towards cosmopolitanism also constructs an outlook for cities in combating the fears of inclusion of others that come with globalisation and sustainable urbanisation. For this reason, the methodological cosmopolitanism in urban cultural policy “would allow national traditions to continue in due dialogue with the ideas and cultures of strangers” (ibid.). It is this dialogue between cultures that fosters the tension within modernities and creates an urban identity for the city in context. In my view, the urban identity can be created in either a particularistic or a cosmopolitan way since such urban identity depends on the cultural policy of the state or city. However, the approach of including others in the policy settings of cities and nation-states enhances hope for both citizens and others, as discussed above in the section about the tension within cosmopolitanism. This approach explores the steps through which we can recognise and manage the reality of living together without division (ibid.).

Open/Public Space
At this point, I will discuss the notion of open/public space as a fundamental element of cultural inclusion. In the context of urban culture and urbanisation, Richard Stephens argues that “great places tell great stories” (UNESCO 2016:187). Based on this argument, open and public space represents one of the important cultural symbols of cosmopolitanism with regard to the inclusion of others as it serves as the interactive medium that connects people with different cultures learning to live together in dignity without prejudice. Thus, cosmopolitanism establishes a space which is common to all irrespective of one’s national or ethnic affiliations. It is stated in the UNESCO report: [t]he renovation of public spaces has become a key component of urban regeneration strategies (UNESCO 2016:121).

These public spaces are strategic venues for organising cultural events, “contributing to the emergence of a new urban culture” (ibid.) of leaving no one behind. The rationality behind governance that includes others through open and public space is to foster interaction and increase participation among urban subjects as a strategy for the construction of an alternative society open to all. The participation of all people without limitation in issues and events affects their welfare and also serves as a means to reconcile the cultural differences and misrepresentations regarding multiple modernities. Such an approach to globalised urbanisation in the twenty-first century combats fears of threats and tensions and strengthens the urban diversity of patterns and expressions that leaves no one behind towards universal openness and identity. For instance, the inclusion of Chinatowns in Sydney, Australia, is a practical example of the significance of open space to urban inclusion. Even though this inclusion seems like particularism, mixing the Chinese with the “natives” or other inhabitants of the city could work as an example of cosmopolitanism. According to Ien Ang,

These areas functioned as safe havens for generations of Chinese, where they could socialize with friends and family, maintain some of their cultural traditions, and feel a sense of belonging. (UNESCO 2016:146)

It exemplifies an urban development strategy which simultaneously leverages cultural heritage to celebrate the city’s contemporary cultural diversity, while enhancing the quality of public space. (ibid.)

 In addition, in his account of “waiting for the barbarians,” Papastergiadis (2015:1) argues that “we needed them (barbarians, others, strangers) in order to see ourselves […] [e]ven though the strangers did not arrive.” However, they transform cities, enhance unity and foster openness (ibid.). Besides, twenty-first century cosmopolitan cities have been dependent on globalisation either through international trade or on humanitarian grounds. This invokes the question of what will become of cities without globalisation. At least, we need these policies and ideas to make life in cities much more comfortable than now. According to Naima Lahbil Tagemouati,

Culture transforms cities into something other than an accumulation of “anti-social,” self-absorbed individuals; culture thus elevates people towards something greater: an identity. (UNESCO 2016:185) 

Therefore, in this approach, urban cultural policy is seen as a driving force for the inclusion of others because the policymakers in cities are responsible (in terms of methodology) for translating the cosmopolitan ideas of the world into the future—making them a reality. In this context, cosmopolitan ideas should not be perceived as a one-time show but as a continuous process towards transforming individuals and society at large through legislative instruments and policies. In my view, open/public space is an example of such governmental actions with the potential of turning the cosmopolitan vision of leaving no one behind into a reality, even though some degree of inclusion of others might be seen to produce “ethnic enclaves” within cities (e.g. Chinatowns), which align with particularism. Notwithstanding the particularistic flavour that accompanies some open spaces, still, these spaces also enhance diversity, respect and dignity and serve as an avenue for learning about different cultures and meeting people outside one’s own cultural group, which are core principles of moral (Nussbaum 1997) and critical cosmopolitanism.

At this stage, I will move on to discuss culture and cosmopolitanism in the context of creativity. Creativity acts as a cultural engine in constructing a transformative vision of an alternative society as well as in implementing twenty-first century sustainable urban development (Habitat III). From the perspective of critical cosmopolitanism, creativity is one of the cultural factors that shift the internal developmental processes within cities. In this context, UNESCO argues

Creativity is a primary driver of economic growth and is integral to dynamic, vibrant and stimulating cities. It plays a role in attracting talent and investment, spurring innovation and improving the overall quality of life. (UNESCO 2016:23)

Richard Stephens also claims that “urban planners and designers must be great storytellers, and they must do so with art and culture” (UNESCO 2016:187). Following the above perspective, cities in the twenty-first century must be creative in a way that produces a universalistic outlook of leaving no one behind and creates an enabling environment that allows people to become “world citizens” in terms of openness to and recognition of others. In this capacity, creativity produces meanings and attaches relevance to places and buildings. Thus, people attach themselves to cities because of their creative outlook even from a distance. Such cosmopolitan thinking includes others through the creative rationality of cities since people’s choice of a city is influenced by the meanings attached to the city and their sense of belonging. As explained earlier in this paper, Kant links cosmopolitanism with enlightenment and perpetual peace. In this sense, I argue that enlightenment comes with the creativity and beauty in the “city we need” (UN-Habitat 2016), which creates meanings and a sense of belonging for the city and people regarded as strangers in their city of residence. Nussbaum (1997) posits that “prospects of enlightenment […] would give new substance to the hope for cosmopolitanism.”

Additionally, cities invest in creativity to enlighten and attract subjects, and this also brings beauty and makes cities more attractive and safer than before. Nussbaum (1997:20) notes that “the Stoics hold out the hope that the society they live in […] can itself become an enlightened one” through the creativity and labour of individuals. I consider an enlightened society to be one with a creative mind and body. Thus, when urban subjects become creative and enlightened through the current trend of globalisation, they are able to give positive meanings to their socio-cultural environment, similarly to the claim presented in UNESCO’s (2016:138) report: the buildings and structures are not enough but “also the mode of social and cultural practices that weave them together and produce meanings.” In this regard, bringing beauty to cities also makes them very attractive to others, which gives hope to their subjects as well as enhances openness. From this perspective, Renzo Piano argues:

Just as beauty—which has to do with discovery, knowledge, learning and curiosity—makes people better, buildings that convey such beauty—museums, schools, universities, concert halls, libraries—make cities better. (UNESCO 2016:169)

 Deducing from the above, hope serves as the basis for removing anger and fear in cities (UN-Habitat 2016:3). Beauty also brings hope, which fosters interaction and openness between the local and the global. Urban space and buildings that contain such beauty and creativity ensure a proper way to view others “not as objects of fear and hate, but as members of one common body with one set of purpose” (Nussbaum 1997:20). This comes close to De Beukelaer’s (2017) claim that others should be viewed as those with whom we are sharing and negotiating our identity.

In my view, the cosmopolitan vision achieved through creativity can be an enabler of economic development in our cities. Thus, creativity builds on the potential of artists, especially the most defenceless ones. Urban creativity can be seen as a capacity-building tool that enhances the participation of others in urban development, fosters interaction among stakeholders and exchange between cultures and ensures civil equality and dignity among urban subjects, which is an integral part of critical cosmopolitanism. In this context, UNESCO argues that “co-producing the cities through cultural policy ensures that the ‘potential and creativity’ of people are engaged and developed” (UNESCO 2016). Moreover, creative education supports such development. Through creative education, people define themselves in terms of their reason and character rather than their ethnic and national affiliation (Nussbaum 1997:22). Nussbaum also claims that creative education serves as a means for getting children to view others in the “Stoic cosmopolitan way” (ibid.).

The above arguments show that the inclusion of culture in urban development plans gives hope to those who have lost their sense of belonging in cities. In this regard, Paulo Alexandre Barbosa, Mayor of Santos, argues that the inclusion of film integrates urban subjects in many ways. For instance:

The Creative Vilas are not only venues for training and production of cultural goods but provide safe spaces for people to interact with one another and enjoy culture. (UNESCO 2016:158)

As mentioned above in the previous section, the tension within cosmopolitanism is rooted in multi-modernities. Moreover, Creative Vilas, as noted in the above quotation, provide an example of urban space that improves the internal developmental agenda concerning participation and the interaction between the local and the global that facilitate living together. Also, this creative or transformative agenda fosters openness towards others, which stands against particularistic ideas of perceiving people as subjects of fear and threat in cities. Therefore, I argue that in urban settings, a culture of creativity can be a potential tool for leaving no one behind in twenty-first century globalised urbanisation as well as for creating a transformative vision of an alternative society. Cultural policies following this approach make cities safer and more attractive without prejudice and segregation.

In this article, the emphasis was to discuss and interpret the policy report of an international organisation from the perspective of cosmopolitanism. A close reading of UNESCO’s (2016) urban future report reveals that the report highlights the tension in cosmopolitanism as well as acknowledges the Habitat III principle of leaving no one behind. This paper concludes that cosmopolitanism is not limited to a universal space or to post-national phenomena that have nowadays become reality as an outcome of urbanisation and globalisation. Precisely, the argument discussed in this paper is that cosmopolitanism exists in socio-cultural processes and dynamics applicable in any city at any moment in history where world-openness is firmly recognised.

Additionally, cosmopolitanism, as discussed above, focuses on the processes of development regarding the self and the city in which new cultural policies and strategies take shape and create an enabling environment for participation and discussions that lead to a transformation in cities regarding the 2030 sustainability agenda of living together. The discussions in the previous sections pertaining to the tensions from the perspective of critical cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitan justice recapture the transformative periods, the interactive patterns between cities and modernities and the internal developmental process towards openness, recognition and respect for all without a particularistic attachment to a city of birth or residence in terms of societal representation. Based on the evidence stated in this paper, I argue that cosmopolitan ideas, implemented through the cultural policy of a state will promote the inclusion of others by making sure that both sides become ethically ethnic, which gives hope to both the current and future generations.

Lastly, it has not been my intention to write a new version of cosmopolitanism but to carefully read the data (UNESCO’s report & Habitat III) and find out if it can be discussed and interpreted through the ideas of cosmopolitanism. I hold the view that cosmopolitanism is indeed a potential solution to globalised urbanisation, and this article has presented an analytical lens of such a perspective that goes beyond cultural demarcation as well as an open debate for future discussion.

doi: 10.18278/aia.4.2.19

[1] Fear is conceptualised as the hatred of people of other ethnic races and religions. In UN-Habitat (2016:11), it is noted that “… the movement of large population into towns and cities poses a variety of challenges.” Fear is also linked to both previous and current evidence for the New Urban Agenda, drafted to address these challenges. In the Quito declaration number three (3) on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlement for All, it is claimed that “Since the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976 and Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996, and the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, we have seen improvements in the quality of life of millions of urban inhabitants, including slum and informal-settlement dwellers. However, the persistence of multiple forms of poverty, growing inequalities and environmental degradation remain among the major obstacles to sustainable development worldwide, with social and economic exclusion and spatial segregation often an irrefutable reality in cities and human settlements” (ibid.:3).

[2] Hope is conceptualised in this paper as all the measures and strategies put in place to live as a citizen of the world irrespective of where one lives or comes from. It also enhances freedom and “respect for diversity and equality” (ibid.:11). Hope is virtually linked to the enlightenment of both citizens and cities as a whole.

[3] Cities are places where large numbers of people live and work; they are hubs of government, commerce and transportation (UN 2016:1). In this paper, I follow the United Nation’s definition of cities as the best possible environment for testing the ideas of cosmopolitanism. See the UN (2016) for a more detailed discussion.

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