Edwards K, 2008, "For a geohistorical cosmopolitanism: postcolonial state strategies, cosmopolitan communities, and the production of the ‘British’, ‘Overseas’, ‘Non-Resident’, and ‘Global’ Indian" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 26(3) 444 – 463
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For a geohistorical cosmopolitanism: postcolonial state strategies, cosmopolitan communities, and the production of the ‘British’, ‘Overseas’, ‘Non-Resident’, and ‘Global’ Indian
Received 31 March 2006; in revised form 6 November 2007
Abstract. In this paper I seek to contribute to the burgeoning literature on cosmopolitanism by drawing on Ulrich Beck’s work on the cosmopolitan implications of globalisation. In doing so, I argue that insights gained from Beckian understandings of risk and cosmopolitanism can be ‘ab-used’ to reclaim their potential for scholarship in postcolonial contexts. Drawing on the work of Bob Jessop, I critique Beck’s argument via its extension and explore the production of ‘cosmopolitan communities’ which are far from neutrally cosmopolitan. The paper examines how ‘cosmopolitan communities’ can be usefully envisaged not solely as a necessary response to world risks, but also as the contingent outcome of state strategies designed to manage forms of political and economic uncertainty by reconfiguring geopolitical space. The state strategies explored here are ones which have sought to reconfigure social forces by rearticulating discourse on the identity of overseas populations, to harness their boundary crossing, or cosmopolitan, material and representational resources. Rethinking the emergence of ‘cosmopolitan communities’ and identities in this manner allows them to be defined by, and anchored in, different geopolitical orders and geohistorical contexts. The empirical context which substantiates this argument is offered by exploring four key moments in the Indian state’s strategic-relational approach to its overseas populations from 1900 to 2003. In this paper, the terms ‘cosmopolitanism’ and ‘cosmopolitan communities’ are, therefore, deployed to refer to a geohistorically deep experience of cultivating geopolitical relations across borders. The paper maintains that ‘cosmopolitan communities’ exist alongside, go beyond, and also existed before political arenas defined by nation-centred accounts of history and geography.
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