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 Pax Terra and Other Utopias? Planetarity, Cosmopolitanism, and the Kingdom of God D H AW N B . M A R T I N Let’s assume then that globalization is a set of designs to manage the world while cosmopolitanism is a set of projects toward planetary conviviality. walter d. mignolo, ‘‘The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism’’ The Earth is a paranational image that can . . . perhaps provide, today, a displaced site for the imagination of planetarity. gayatri chakravorty spivak, Death of a Discipline Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. matthew 6:10, rsv Mapped, divided into spheres of influence, and navigated by a wireless ‘‘net’’ accessed through palm-cradled devices, our micromanaged globe appears sufficiently contained.1 ‘‘The globe’’ thus compacted, notes Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘‘allows us to think that we can aim to control it.’’2 Efforts to control, however, inevitably stumble on the unexpected or unconquered. Cartographers of old warned that at the limits of the known globe and in the mists of unchartered waters, ‘‘here be monsters.’’ The warning stands inscribed. Difference, or that which eludes categorization, bears the scar of the monstrous or foreign, so marked by the forces of hegemony. Orbiting in a universe resistant to the multiply particular, the globe—thus mapped, inscribed, and scarred by centuries of ‘‘design’’—swirls about an axis tilted toward the reigning sociopolitical imaginaries of the time. In this particular PAGE 281 ................. 17764$ CH16 10-28-10 12:08:09 PS 282 兩 d h aw n b . m a r ti n time, images and policies of globalization twist the compressed orb into a ‘‘system of exchange’’ funded by economies of the same.3 These economies, driven by the homogenizing effects of capital and consumption , push the globe’s diverse peoples, languages, beliefs, soils, and waters to the verge of material and conceptual extinction. The biodiversity of local environments falters beneath the weight of the same. Around the globe, the ‘‘other’’ ceases to be imagined or encountered except as a derivative from the same. In an effort to disrupt the derivative, Spivak ‘‘propose[s] the planet to overwrite the globe.’’ For the planet, unlike the globe, ‘‘is in the species of alterity’’—an alterity ‘‘underived.’’4 The species Spivak names planet, in its overwriting alterity and ‘‘planetarity,’’ serves as ‘‘a catachresis for . . . collective responsibility as right.’’5 As to whether this ‘‘right’’ alludes to a matter of law or an alternative to ‘‘wrong,’’ the text remains ambivalent. Yet when considered as an element in Spivak’s work, this right likely speaks not so much of the inviolable as of the irreducible. For the inviolable dwells potentially in the comfort of the codified, with the collective and its responsible acts neatly defined—without deviation.6 The irreducible, alternatively, inhabits the uncanny (unheimlich) and undecided. It refrains from absolute pronouncements but rather prays to be not only haunted by but also ‘‘imagined . . . without guarantees, by and in another culture,’’ another collective.7 Collectives of the irreducible, therefore, roam the unfamiliar terrains of a planet barren of certainty yet bursting with diverse encounters. Spivak’s proposed planetarity envisions the (im)possibility of ethical relationship with ‘‘the wholly other’’ emergent not from clearly delineated positions or oppositions, but from alterity.8 Cast in opposition, the globe too readily splits between ‘‘here be monsters’’ and ‘‘there be the civilized’’—or translated in twenty-first-century terms, here be the developing and there be the developed. Imagined in alterity, the planet opens beyond binary divisions and the ‘‘paranational’’ Earth gives place to ‘‘a politics of friendship to come.’’9 (Im)possible though it be, Spivak’s earthy vision demands attentive effort to picture and enact an ever-arriving politics of conviviality—to add Walter Mignolo’s cosmopolitan idea of planetary relations. Yet conviviality and friendship, however deferred, risk devolution into an ‘‘unexamined benevolence’’ that once again partitions the globe into polar here and there, ‘‘First’’ and ‘‘Third’’ world designations.10 So that this earth-nurtured ethics of collective responsibility does not deflate into global exchanges of the same, Spivak locates planetarity within radical alterity—an alterity she recognizes in the name of God, among other names.11 PAGE 282 ................. 17764$ CH16 10-28-10 12:08:09 PS p l an e t ar i t y, c o sm o p ol i t an i s m, a n d t h e ki n g dom of g o...


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