Cosmopolitan Spaces in Non-Cosmopolitan Places

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: 423
Oral Presentation
Indigo WILLING , Griffith University, Australia
Ian WOODWARD , Griffith University, Australia
Encounters are an important part of the texture and form of social life, in a global world where opportunities for people to foster positive cosmopolitan outcomes are increasingly visible and accessible. The concept of cosmopolitan encounters offers a grounded way to understand the everyday dimensions of cosmopolitanism through considering certain practices and performances that people draw upon to negotiate situations of diversity.  Questions of the spatiality, configurations and locations of where encounters take place, in both likely and unlikely places, are also central to understanding how cosmopolitanism may emerge and flourish, or falter, fade and fail.  But while places can serve as a vector of cosmopolitan possibility, the distinction between ‘place’ and ‘space’ is also important. 

Drawing on empirical, qualitative research as part of a three-year project into cosmopolitan encounters, our paper argues that both cosmopolitan and ‘unlikely’, non-cosmopolitan places can be the sites of emergent cosmopolitan spaces.  Our research sites include urban, regional and rural locations across Australia. Across these sites, our research employs observation and interviews with a broad range of Australians to shed light on various ‘spaces’ of cosmopolitanism that provide the opportunity for cosmopolitan encounters. 

Rather than revealing a linear pathway to a final, utopian cosmopolitan destination, we highlight various gradations of opportunities enabled by certain spaces, and in a range of places, that may or may not nurture the seeds of cosmopolitan to their full potential or permanency.   We conclude with recommendations for deeper understandings of the relationality between space, place and performance into what constitutes cosmopolitan encounters.   We then propose particular research strategies for uncovering cosmopolitan encounters, and highlight unlikely contexts worthy of investigation in future research.