Abstract

Abstract:

The essay examines Kwame Anthony Appiah's ethical cosmopolitanism in the context of twenty-first century global migrations, rising nationalisms, and religion in both its violent and peaceful forms. It reads Appiah's concept of situated cosmopolitism as "universalism plus difference" in Cosmopolitanism in relation to current theories of the "new" cosmopolitanism and diaspora; debates in religious studies about the concepts of religion and secularism; and the implications for gender, especially the lives of girls and women. It demonstrates Appiah's pervasive use of religion as negative examples of what he calls "counter-cosmopolitanism" or neofundamentalism, with examples drawn from honor killings, female genital cutting, and prohibitions against homosexuality. It emphasizes Appiah's defense of the imagination and storytelling as foundational for an ethical cosmopolitanism, as well as the tolerant hospitality demonstrated in his own family by his Muslim uncle and Christian aunt. With readings of poetry and fiction by Mohja Kahf and Randa Jarrar in the context of diasporic Muslim feminisms, the essay argues that many migrant Muslim women writers embrace a cosmopolitan approach to religion and secularism, one that identifies in various ways with their Muslim heritage at the same time that they reject dogmatic forms of both religion and secularism. The essay's reading of Appiah's ethical cosmopolitanism rejects the notion that religious tolerance is a sole product of Western secular Enlightenment and ends with the example of Genghis Khan's universal law of individual religious freedom, an idea that Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin adapted from a French biography of the Mongol Empire's founder in the formation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-661X
Print ISSN
0028-6087
Pages
pp. 199-225
Launched on MUSE
2018-08-21
Open Access
No
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