Can the promise of cosmopolitan democracy be revived in a world besieged by a rising tide of right- wing populism and authoritarianism that undermines basic human rights? Political developments such as the refugee crisis and Brexit in Europe have shaken the common political sphere that the EU aspired to build as a project of cosmopolitan democracy. Deep polarization and a process of “othering” mark established, as well as struggling, democracies. Categorizations of “us vs. them” are much more conveniently made and imposed in a context where risks are accentuated by the threat of war and terrorism. Neoliberal organization of economies and states has led to the commodification of services and erodes the commons as evidenced by ecological and urban struggles. This contributes to exacerbating inequalities, which in turn makes it difficult for democracy to deliver.
Yet, everyday practices of living and contending together abound. Encounters transpire in public spheres, and solidarities are forged across borders to contend against the risks of climate change, financial crisis and various forms of exclusion, and terrorism and insecurity. How prevalent is everyday cosmopolitanism? In what ways do people cross borders into different geographies, identity groups, and ways of living? How can ordinary encounters and interactions transfer into transnational and national politics and policy making? Can solidarities established around democracy, justice, and ecological concerns counteract the rising trends of exclusion, polarization and de-democratization? What are the tensions involved in the engagement of local, national, and transnational actors? Can the analysis of concrete tensions and conflicts in the local-transnational nexus re-politicize increasingly technical and bureaucratic solutions? The conference aims to address these questions by discussing a diverse but related set of issues such as climate change, the crisis of democracy, populism, the refugee crisis, nationalism, and everyday cosmopolitanism.