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Without doubt, theories of cosmopolitanism have themselves become more and more cosmopolitan.(1) No longer simply referring to a post-national, rootless world traveller, a place of diverse consumption, or the critique of home, this "fundamental devotion to the interests of humanity as a whole" (Robbins, "Introduction" 1) has recently come under rigorous retheorization and has been ascribed a widening range of liberatory and analytic uses. Critiquing both its undercurrent of Eurocentric universalism and assumed aestheticism, Bruce Robbins and Pheng Cheah have usefully brought the new project of "cosmopolitics" to the fore, in which questions of access, obligation, ethics and global justice are balanced with an awareness that cosmopolitanism is always "located and embodied" and must be."pluralize[d] and particularize[d]" (Robbins, "Introduction" 2-3). Along with these revisions come the newly included cosmopolites--refugees, forced laborers, non-elite mi-grants--that have spurned a variety of cosmopolitanisms "from below". More than proliferating terms and extending membership, however, such theorizations allow us to understand that cosmopolitanism is neither a thing nor an attitude, but an ethical and political framework in which to organize meanings and negotiations between peoples, nations, universals and particularities. In this article, I want to shift to shift attention from the recent work on subaltern cosmopolitanisms(2) to revisit an ongoing debate around the relevance of cosmopolitanism for postcolonial or Third World nation-states, especially in view of their often perceived abuse of human rights in the form of dictatorships and authoritarianism. As a theory that seeks to develop a concept of peace and justice across nations in the context of contemporary globalization, cosmopolitanism is arguably the obvious corrective to the excesses of the inward-looking, despotic nation-state. Yi Munyol's 1987 novella, Our Twisted Hero, an award-winning allegorical depiction of South Korean dictatorship, brings this debate firmly into focus. Described by reviewers as a story of "oppression, tyranny, authoritarianism, corruption, revenge" and written at a time when Korea "was being strangled by a dictatorship" (Crown 138), it has been translated into English, French, German, Italian and Hebrew. I want to consider how this text works through an idea of cosmopolitanism as a potential counterforce to the illiberal, dictatorial nation-state. At stake here is to parse an idea of cosmopolitanism that, in light of recent work, is not reducible to a synonym of Euro-American multiculturalism, or elite global connectedness. In doing so, I aim to go beyond a reading of the plight of the unfree postcolonial world--what Tim Brennan has described as "the Third World political nightmare" (5) of newly decolo-nized states--that merely confirms the liberties of the First. Implicit in my argument is a questioning of cosmopolitanism as the unencumbrance from the local and the particular. I am interested, rather, in considering the ways particular global forces--the international economic division of labor, the critique of the nation-state, human rights discourses, U.S. style democratic liberalism--produce distinct and unexpected renderings of cosmopolitanism in Yi's remarkable novella. Not least, I examine the privileged role that literary allegory plays in both the representation of "oppression, tyranny, authoritarianism" and its apparent opposite, freedom. To begin, I review some questions around cosmopolitan culture from the postcolonial perspective; I then move to a close reading of Yi's novella and its alternative understanding of the cosmopolitan.

GENRE
Professional & Technical
RELEASED
2011
January 1
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
31
Pages
PUBLISHER
University of Calgary, Department of English
SIZE
200.3
KB

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