Review of International Studies

‘Citizen of nowhere’ or ‘the point where circles intersect’? Impartialist and embedded cosmopolitanisms

Toni  Erskine  1


Ethical cosmopolitanism is conventionally taken to be a stance that requires an ‘impartialist’ point of view—a perspective above and beyond all particular ties and loyalties. Taking seriously the claims of those critics who counter that morality must have a ‘particularist’ starting-point, this article examines the viability of an alternative understanding of cosmopolitanism: ‘embedded cosmopolitanism’. Using moral justifications for patriotism as points of contrast, it presents embedded cosmopolitanism as a position that recognises community membership as being morally constitutive, but challenges the common assumption that communities are necessarily bounded and territorially determinate.


1 This essay was presented at the International Studies Association (ISA) 39th Annual Convention, 18–21 March 1998, Minneapolis, USA. I am grateful to Professor Ian Clark and this journal's anonymous referees for many constructive comments on the argument contained here. This research would not have been possible without the generous support of Trinity College, Cambridge, the Overseas Research Students (ORS) Awards Scheme and the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust. The opportunity to prepare this paper for publication has been afforded by a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship.