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Cosmopolitanism – Jewish and Postcolonial Perspectives

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Sander Gilman, Cathy Gelbin, Gurminder Bhambra, Bryan Cheyette

‘If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.’ Prime Minister Theresa May, November 2016

In the aftermath of the vote for Brexit in 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May controversially broached a key issue of our times: how do we identify ourselves, and must our sense of belonging be defined by national borders? These questions are closely connected to the term cosmopolitanism, which has long been the subject of scholarly debate. Cosmopolitanism is often seen as providing a perspective on the world that looks beyond immediate borders and nation states. It is also a term that has been closely wedded to Jewish experiences of modernity, and to the politics of antisemitism. In addition, postcolonial theorists have explored how cosmopolitanism speaks to other minority experiences, both within Europe and beyond.

This event brings together four leading scholars to explore what cosmopolitanism means today.

Sander Gilman, Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts at Emory College, co-author of Cosmopolitanism and the Jews (University of Michigan Press, 2017).

Cathy Gelbin, Senior Lecturer in Film and German Studies at the University of  Manchester, co-author of Cosmopolitanism and the Jews (University of Michigan Press, 2017).

Gurminder Bhambra, Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies at the University of Sussex, co-editor of European Cosmopolitanism: Colonial Histories and Postcolonial Societies (Routledge, 2017).

Bryan Cheyette, Professor of English Literature at the University of Reading, author of Diasporas of the Mind: Jewish and Postcolonial Writing and the Nightmare of History (Yale University Press, 2013).

Welcome and introduction by Daniel Wildmann, Director, Leo Baeck Institute, Queen Mary, University of London. Panel discussion chaired by Brendan McGeever, Acting Associate Director of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London.

Leo Baeck Institute London in partnership with the Pears Institute for the study of antisemitism