Transnationalism and cosmopolitanism: towards global citizenship?



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Transnationalism and cosmopolitanism: towards global citizenship?

Christien van den Anker


University of the West of England

Cold Harbor Lane

Frenchay

Bristol BS16 1QY


Tel. 01761-479626

Email: Christien.Vandenanker@uwe.ac.uk


Biography

Christien van den Anker is Reader in Politics at the University of the West of England. She has published widely in the areas of cosmopolitanism, global justice and human rights. Her current research is on contemporary forms of slavery, especially trafficking for forced labour, and migrant rights. She is lead editor of the Journal of Global Ethics and edits the Palgrave series on Global Ethics.



Abstracts

The concept of transnationalism, despite a variety of earlier uses, has recently been used to describe the sociological phenomenon of cross-border migrants considering more than one place our home. This can be in terms of identity and belonging, cultural expression, family and other social ties, visits, financial flows, organizing working life in more than one nation-state or transnational political projects.

In this paper I discuss the theory and practice of transnationalism to assess the practical, explanatory and normative strength of the concept; I then introduce three different forms of cosmopolitan approaches and assess whether transnational migrants practices contribute to a cosmopolitan outlook and active global citizenship. I show that the extent to which transnationalism contributes to various forms of global citizenship varies according to the different conceptualisations of transnationalism and cosmopolitanism. In conclusion I draw out the implications of these differences for the future protection of the rights of migrants.
Keywords: transnationalism, cosmopolitanism, global citizenship, hospitality, migrant rights
The argument for links between transnationalism and cosmopolitanism

In order to establish whether transnational migration strategies contribute to cosmopolitanism, we need to set out clearly what the indicators for such expectations are. Who is expected to create this moral motivation? Does global citizenship mean political participation, global entitlements to social and other rights or being welcome everywhere? Should global citizens only live a specific cosmopolitan lifestyle or should they act in support of ‘others’? Are those situated abroad or nearby? And what is it about transnationalism that supposedly creates any of these versions of increased (moral) global citizenship? These questions will be explored in subsequent sections after looking first at what the argument might look like that transnationalism contributes to cosmopolitanism and global citizenship.


Ulf Hannerz argues that more people having relationships with ‘others’ means they have an experiential basis for a cosmopolitan outlook as opposed to patriotism. (Hannerz, 2009) He views any migration across national borders as transnational (as opposed to international, which he sees as referring to state actors only). The ‘people’ in his argument are presumably the non-migrant inhabitants in receiving countries who, through living in more cultural and ethnically diverse environments due to transnational migration, come into contact with more ‘others’ and therefore are expected to be more open to ‘difference’. He may also want to include migrants who by living with more diversity become more cosmopolitan but does not make this explicit. Hannerz displays here a version of the ‘proximity thesis’ which holds that increased diversity due to migration leads to more multiculturalism, understood as the sociological phenomenon of greater cultural variety as well as increased interaction and understanding between groups, within neighbourhoods, cities or communities. (van den Anker, 2007) These expectations can be traced back to early natural law accounts of acknowledging moral duties towards ‘others’ once there is recognition as fellow human beings. (Jahn, 1999) In Hannerz’ line of argument, the closing of the emotional distance gap is due to migration across borders of nation-states, which means migration per se seems to do the work in the proximity thesis, not any new model of migration where transnational ties are kept by migrants to their ‘home’ lands or with family and friends in the diaspora in yet additional countries. Yet, in the moral panic about migration in receiving countries it is precisely these complex lives across borders that are presented as reasons to doubt the loyalty of immigrants to their new country of residence. That becomes a ground of suspicion which hampers a cosmopolitan outlook. In a recent British documentary on migration, characteristically entitled: ‘Immigration: the inconvenient truth’, the fact that immigrants would watch the news from their country of origin was presented as evidence for their lack of connection to the society where they now lived. The loyalties to different national cultures were constructed as mutually exclusive. An additional complaint presented about recent migrants from new EU member-states is that they stay for a relatively short period of time in order to make enough money to start a business at home. This illustrates that the anxieties expressed are linked to an underlying ethic of nationalism: that people should belong to one nation-state and not several. If they opt for migration, they are expected to build a life in the receiving country, not leave after a short period. The different versions of nationalism may range from the more benign to the more sinister but the general perception is of a host society which ‘welcomes’ guests and should therefore control who comes in for how long and which rights will be granted.

Therefore, these initial anecdotal pieces of evidence do not support a thesis that transnationalism creates motivation for a more global citizenship in the receiving country’s public conscience. That is not to say that diversity itself may not assist in better understanding, increased interaction and intermarriage as well as mutual influence on identities; yet, these may be developments mainly in diverse cities and neighbourhoods rather than widespread experiences. And even in diverse environments, the reactions to diversity vary widely and can cause mixtures of fruitful intercultural exchange, every day racism and more extreme backlashes. So the question remains: who is expected to become more cosmopolitan due to transnational migration and what does that mean for increased global citizenship?


Hannerz acknowledges increased ongoing transnational ties and relationships between migrants and our original home countries beyond his view that migration in itself is transnational. In recent debates on migration the concept of transnationalism is most often used in this way to describe the lifestyle of migrants who remain in close contact with their country of origin. (Brettell 2003) The claim of transnationalism leading to a more cosmopolitan outlook is then about the ongoing ties across borders of migrants, which leads to ‘cosmopolitan’ lifestyles for them. Cosmopolitanism in this type of argument simply means the same as transnational. The cross-border contacts and concerns ascribed to migrants may involve sending money to their remaining relatives, building businesses or houses, or being involved in diaspora humanitarian or political projects or long-distance nationalism (Glick-Schiller, 2005) Strictly speaking this would fall into a conception of cosmopolitanism on the understanding that these actions were a result of a felt duty which literally crosses borders. Yet, as with the cosmopolitan lifestyle argument, this doesn’t create a meaningful synergy between transnationalism and cosmopolitanism as it refers to duties felt towards particular others, mostly immediate family members or local communities of origin whereas cosmopolitanism is usually referring to duties felt to unknown others across borders. The question remains therefore whether that kind of duty across borders may develop a sense of global citizenship for migrants. In other words, it is questionable whether there is an increased possibility for cosmopolitan views and actions among migrants who are involved in more than one nation-state as well as in the receiving country’s original citizens. We will therefore further probe the claim for transnationalism as a motivational force for global citizenship by developing further insights in what might be meant by it. The question whether this ‘new reality’ of migration might lead to more widespread motivation for cosmopolitan duties across borders or, in other words, some forms of moral global citizenship, could be seen as an internationalization of the ‘proximity thesis’. Rather than multiculturalism being created due to the presence of migrants, we could ask whether migrants themselves create cosmopolitan attitudes due to remaining active across borders.

An assessment of what would be the indicators of a cosmopolitan outlook in transnational practices needs to take note also of the generalization that all migration leads to transnationalism and that this includes the freedom to travel. In reality the mobility of migrants can be severely restricted due to residency restrictions on travel in the host society’s migration regime, lack of financial resources, or risk in returning to a country where the regime someone sought refuge from, is still in power. Yet, families who suffered refugee experiences or who include members who live in undocumented circumstances, will often be dispersed over several countries, including the country of origin, several initial host societies and possibly countries that family members traveled to after gaining full citizenship status including mobility rights in their initial receiving country (for examples see Khosravi 2010b and van Liempt, 2007).


In summary, the argument for increased cosmopolitanism as a result of transnational migration strategies may run as follows: migrants with ties to several communities across national borders can be assumed to care about and perceive duties towards people beyond the nation-state where one resides. This is then represented as an example of the possibility of transnationalism becoming a vehicle for developing a cosmopolitan motivation. Likewise, the combination of citizenship ties with several nation-states is seen as an example of post-national or global citizenship, which in turn reinforces cosmopolitan global citizenship in a moral sense. Initially, it looks like there are two levels of assessing this hypothesis. Firstly, within societies where it can be seen as true if we perceive cosmopolitanism simply as an outlook towards incoming migrants and their families. Yet, the question remains who develops this moral motivation and why, as many people remain hostile to migrants. On a cross-border level, the argument is either trivially true, as in the case of a cosmopolitan lifestyle for migrants which is the equivalent of transnationalism. Or it may be true in the sense that duties felt to particular others would count as indicators of increased cosmopolitanism. Moreover, migration trajectories need to be acknowledged for their variety and in the cases of forced migration there is often a transnational social network but lack of chances to relate frequently in person through travel. Projects in one’s ‘home’ country may also be severely restricted due to refugees’ strained relationship with the regime they fled from.

Adding up these arguments it may be impossible to establish any direct links, at least to any robust conception of cosmopolitanism as referring to some kind of growing universalism in duties of justice. Moreover, as concerns for justice beyond one’s own national group may be culturally linked to the collective conscience of the receiving country rather than the migrant’s original culture, the link with transnationalism may be the other way around: the experience of living in a new, cosmopolitan oriented country instead of remaining ties with the country of origin may be the decisive factor in creating moral motivation towards others across borders. Being from ‘elsewhere’ is not a guarantee for caring about any ‘other’. For example, there is often lack of contact and solidarity between migrants from different countries just as between the ‘host’ society and migrants of any group.



At first sight, therefore we require transnationalism to mean more than simply moving across borders in order to be of relevance to cosmopolitan moral principles; moreover, we need to look at who is considered to be affected by the transnational model of migration and finally we will need to assess what kind of cosmopolitanism is supported by transnationalism, if any. I will now try to use these criteria to assess links between transnationalism and cosmopolitanism and their implications for global citizenship. In conclusion, when assessing the claim that transnationalism creates a growing cosmopolitan outlook we need to be aware of the variety of ways this can be true or false as it is in the complexity of these processes that we see some factors that may influence towards a stronger form of global justice both across borders and within communities.
Affinities between transnationalism and cosmopolitanism

The multiple ways of understanding transnationalism are adequately summarized in the literature (Yeoh et al (eds.) 2003) Here I distinguish between three different ways of using the term transnationalism. Transnationalism is regularly used to describe the practice of migrants to remain in close contact with our country of origin through either travel, communication (often via electronic means) or sending money or goods. Remittances are a major source of income to sending countries and an overwhelming majority of migrants contribute to their family’s standard of living. (Korovilas, 2005) Email, chat rooms, and mobile phones have substantially altered the amount and level of communication between diaspora communities or individual migrants and their families. Individual travel in both directions (for holidays, family visits or for temporary work) if possible contributes to strong relationships and sending goods exacerbates the mixing of culture with western goods being increasingly popular in non-western countries and vice versa. These are viewed as cultural forms of globalisation that in turn contribute to a form of global citizenship as a specific identity. ‘Being cosmopolitan’ is often described in terms of consumption. For example, youth in northern Tehran are seen as modern, liberated and internationally connected through the internet, Iranglesi music and fashion. (Khosravi, 2007) Alternatively, cosmopolitanism can be expressed as in opposition to particular national ties. Al-Ali writes, for example, that she was attracted to ‘cosmopolitan places like London’ in the sense of being a home for people from many places. Al-Ali also presents cosmopolitanism as a type of unrootedness or detachment from a particular place. ‘But over the past decade this cosmopolitanism has been living side by side with a growing political, cultural and emotional attachment to Iraq (…). (Al-Ali, 2007: 19) This shows a usage of cosmopolitanism that is easily seen to be true for transnational migrant communities. If we call places cosmopolitan when they host people from a lot of different backgrounds then there is an obvious way in which transnationalism adds to cosmopolitanism. Similarly, if cosmopolitanism is equated with ‘uprootedness’, then transnational migration contributes to it. However, this is in itself not very interesting, as merely based on a tautology. Moreover, it needs to be acknowledged that transnational communities have also led to dents in national-based solidarity as the newcomers are resented for taking up resources (housing and benefits) and are often legally excluded either for a period of time (as in the case with migrant workers) or permanently (if based on their irregular status). (Khosravi, 2010a) These excluded inclusions create even more incentives for migrants to continuously identify with the original ‘homeland’. (Glick-Schiller, 2005) Differentiated rights according to ‘community’ are also a possible perverse outcome of multiculturalism (as a model of minority rights beyond the liberal model-CvdA) in welfare states as it creates inequality between community groups. (Kymlicka, 2008) A further complicating factor is that even within ethnic groups (often wrongly seen as homogenous and harmonious communities) there may be differentiation according to migration status and length of stay. It is not uncommon for migrant communities to employ newcomers from the same country of origin under exploitative circumstances as has been shown for Vietnamese in Poland (Szulecka, forthcoming). The challenges of diversity for welfare systems are well-covered in Cuperus et al (2003) in terms of social cohesion but also as raising questions for social policy with respect to differentiated citizenship status. The increasing complication in acknowledging transnationalism as a relatively new way of dealing with migration, is that political rights, social entitlements and access to cultural expression are all still mainly organized based on a nationalistic model of citizenship. Even research is still largely organized according to this methodological nationalism. (Anthias, 2009; Glick Schiller, 2008) Therefore, transnationalism contributes superficially to cosmopolitanism in host societies but also creates the opposite in reducing solidarity to ‘others’ within nation-states. The implications of transnationalism for global citizenship and migrant rights are discussed in the final section.

In this first usage of transnationalism, cosmopolitanism is almost seen as equivalent with transnational lifestyles. Therefore superficially we could say that there is an affinity between transnationalism (viewed as having ties across borders or links between people who arrived from or identify culturally with other nation-states and cultures) and cosmopolitanism (viewed as a lifestyle with diversity in cultural practices and lacking strong nationalist attachment to one place). However, I will now show that with more complex understandings of transnationalism and cosmopolitanism the links are not that obvious.


The second usage of transnationalism is as a conceptual approach to migration, parallel to globalization, as explaining a current phenomenon, changing the world around us and shaping the perspective we apply to the world. As such it has already generated a critical literature (Celik, 2008) as well as textbooks on its core claims (Vertovec, 2009). In this understanding of transnationalism, the impact of movement and communication is seen as fundamentally altering identities and transcending boundaries; nomadism or creolisation is viewed as contributing to a form of global citizenship. The drawbacks of understanding cosmopolitanism solely as a form of ‘cosmopolitan’ lifestyles are also found in this area of understanding, namely the overemphasis on the excitement of diversity. However on this conception of transnationalism, this positive appraisal of mixing of identities is combined with skepticism of cosmopolitanism as representing homelessness, lack of belonging and alienation. In this respect, although most of this literature is optimistic about transnationalism as a new model of relating to place, there is also some emphasis on the loneliness of migration and the sense of loss or depression. Critics of cosmopolitanism as an outlook will refer to loss of cultural distinction and a form of imperialism. (Khosravi, 2007). On this view, therefore, transnationalism is linked to cosmopolitanism in both the rich lifestyle aspect and a sense of uprootedness and lack of belonging. The two extremes of cosmopolitan identity: being ‘at home everywhere’ and ‘being from nowhere’ are interlinked in this conception of transnationalism.

Al-Ali and Khoser develop a critical stance towards transnationalism as the heralded ‘new’ approach in migration studies. Despite valuing the studies produced by transnationalism for being theoretically informed while empirically rich, they warn for two potential gaps in transnationalism: the understanding of transnational spaces as opposed to national or local social spaces and the danger of essentialism. The emphasis, according to them, needs to be on heterogeneity of experience and the research focus on the construction of the transnational. Despite this, Al-Ali and Khoser’s interest is not so much in the implications of transnationalism on global citizenship but on the approaches of nation-states to sovereignty and national citizenship. They argue that a good example of this is Eritrea which has institutionalised their diaspora communities and can be called a deterritorialised nation-state. Other states have been forced to recognise transnational communities through international agreements on the protection of migrant rights. (Al-Ali and Khoser, 2002: 4) In Haiti not the government but the local population emphasises a sense of being Haitian based on ancestry which involves duties on the diaspora to invest in what was once ‘home’. (Glick-Schiller 2005: 289) And in true transnational fashion (as involving non-state actors) trade unions in Canada make agreements with the Mexican government to protect labour rights for Mexican migrants in Canada. Moreover, the ITUC relates between trade unions in different countries to protect labour rights. Despite labour rights being valid for resident non-citizens, their practical protection requires not only state recognition of transnationalism but increasingly non-state actors to take pro-active approaches. In the final section I will evaluate in more detail if these forms of transnationalism lead to or are inspired by cosmopolitan forms of global citizenship.


The third usage of transnationalism is of a normative kind, and again in parallel to literature on globalization, this sets out claims that transnationalism is a good thing and should be encouraged. It is in this third set of sources that the strongest optimism about transnationalism as contributing to global citizenship can be found. This can take several forms. Transnationalism can be portrayed as increasing the number of people who come in contact with other societies and this will be equated with a growing understanding between cultures. However, encounters with ‘strangers’ or ‘others’ may also serve to strengthen prejudice and confirmation of caricatures. Moreover, if engaging with people across borders is not based on a sense of cultural confidence, increased insecurity and mistrust towards ‘others’ may be the result, whereas over-confidence in one’s own culture may lead to arrogance, interfering and a victimising or ‘rescue’ mentality.

This third type of transnationalism may be of most interest in our exercise of mapping synergies between transnationalism and cosmopolitanism as the normative position that cosmopolitanism is to be strived for will allow more detailed explorations of the type of moral duties and forms of global citizenship that can be developed from this perspective. The use of cosmopolitanism as describing a lifestyle with mixed cultural influences or complex sense of belonging or, contrastingly, a lack of roots or homes everywhere, can be overcome by using transnationalism as a normative concept which in turn contributes to a meaningful form of cosmopolitanism and global citizenship.


In the next section I test three forms of cosmopolitanism for their transcultural competence in these respects. I will look at transnationalism and its perceived effects on egalitarian, embedded and hospitality-based cosmopolitanism with a view to discovering their impact on developing forms of global citizenship. I will use three core theoretical areas for comparing these conceptions of cosmopolitanism: level of analysis (states-civil society and individuals); justice versus charity; and universalism versus particularism/contextualism.
Three forms of cosmopolitanism

In this section I want to set out three versions of cosmopolitanism: 1) egalitarian cosmopolitanism as a theory of global justice, arguing for global redistribution and taxation; 2) embedded cosmopolitanism, as a descriptive and normative approach arguing for duties of charity across borders between relevantly ‘linked’ people and 3) cosmopolitan hospitality as an ethic which has consequences both within and across borders arguing for welcoming ‘others’ and ultimately giving up being at ‘home’. Here I will compare these three forms of cosmopolitanism and assess their possible affinity with transnationalism. I then ask in the next section what the implications are for global citizenship and what this might mean in terms of the accessibility of rights of migrants.


The three main axes of distinction between egalitarian cosmopolitanism, embedded cosmopolitanism and an ethic of hospitality are as follows. The first axis is around which levels of analysis are prioritized and therefore which actors are seen as having rights and duties. These vary from states to civil society to individuals or a combination of the three. Secondly, the commitment to justice versus a commitment to charity runs as a dividing line between these three approaches, again with a combination of the two in the ethic of hospitality. This element of distinction is interrelated with the favoured actors, as cosmopolitans proposing rules of justice will focus more on states and international organizations as actors, whereas those who think in terms of charity will focus more on individuals or other non-state actors such as business or civil society. Thirdly, these three forms of cosmopolitanism diverge in their position on universal validity of moral principles versus contextualist applicability to particular persons or communities which has implications for their views on transnationalism and global citizenship.
Egalitarian cosmopolitanism

Defenders of egalitarian cosmopolitanism have developed the cosmopolitan theory in its response to nationalist critics. (Caney, 2005) The core common ground between egalitarian cosmopolitans is a basic principle of equality and lack of moral significance of national borders whereas liberal nationalism holds that the solidarity between fellow-nationals as so strong that a similar motivation could not be generated globally. (van den Anker, 2000; Miller, 2007)

This type of cosmopolitanism is traditionally state-focused even in its approach to global democracy as an interstate form of organisation. It develops principles of global justice and defends forms of global redistribution according to some form of taxation comparable with progressive taxation in national social justice systems. (Barry, 1989) Ideas for global taxation are further developed by Thomas Pogge (1998).

In addition, the human rights approach favoured by egalitarian cosmopolitans like Jones (2001) has been criticized for its statism (van den Anker, 2005) The moral language of human rights has a tension at its heart between methodological nationalism and cosmopolitanism which is not easily overcome by transnational practices. International agreements on human rights law still have to be developed, signed and ratified by states and states govern the enforceability of human rights. Their migration and labour regimes constrain the transnational possibilities for (potential) migrants.

Egalitarian cosmopolitanism is strongly in favour of principles of justice over duties of charity. The relative voluntarism of charity and the lack of institutionalisation jeopardize the impartiality of systems designed according to principles of justice. The transnational acts of redistribution across borders are all based on charity even though the strength of the duty may be felt more in communities with strong family values than in the case of western citizens being called upon to give to help poor people in other countries. So in some sense the transnational giving of remittances can be seen as a duty of justice towards one’s family The big missing link for it to count as the beginnings of a cosmopolitan version of global citizenship, though, is that it is limited to one’s own family or community of origin and not impartial towards ‘others’. It therefore has the connotation of moral luck connected to charity and not a form of global justice.

Egalitarian cosmopolitanism has a strong focus on universalism and equality, not on particularism and difference; therefore it misses out some of the specificities and needs of migrant groups. Part of the criticism of traditional global justice cosmopolitanism is also that its impartial view ignores difference and universalises a model of justice developed in a western context. The development of international norms of minority rights mainly based on liberalism and not on multiculturalism shows that this is still true to some extent. (van den Anker, 2007) Transnational communities show us that there is both a need to stand up for universal human rights but always with the particular understanding of the situation in mind. The accessibility of human rights is often adversely affected by ingrained discriminatory practices as well as longstanding exclusions based on the traditional liberal idea of nation-states. Brock (2009) argues for cosmopolitanism with accepted forms of nationalism, which might be seen as an opening towards more particularism in cosmopolitan theory. However, it also risks strengthening the exclusionary forces already pressing on transnational communities definitely from the ‘host’ country but sometimes also from the country of origin. Iranians, for example, look down on transnationals who come only for the holidays and show off their western ways while leaving before life gets to its tough everyday routine for the ones that stayed behind. (Khosravi, 2007)

Transnationalism was also a term used by researchers of global civil society who looked into the building of new social movements across borders for campaigns on global justice. This presented a new level of actor in international relations and global politics, which transcended the traditional focus on state and individual. The human rights discourse can be seen as a different kind of transnational practice created by a range of actors. (Smith in Al-Ali and Khoser, 2002: xii) Transnationalism used in this way can be seen to contribute to cosmopolitanism in that NGOs are often instrumental in redistributing funds across borders, but of course only by voluntary gift mechanisms and not based on the taxation schemes that are the utopia of cosmopolitans. Traditionally, egalitarian cosmopolitanism has taken the view that global citizenship would involve a form of global justice where everyone notwithstanding their birthplace would have equal access to resources. This was presented as ideally a form of global taxation and redistribution modeled on social welfare states in Western Europe, and in the interim as a duty to contribute 0.7% of GDP to development aid and support for the ecological measures in poor countries (Declaration at Rio de Janeiro, 1994). In this respect curren transnationalism is not creating global citizenship according to the egalitarian cosmopolitan model. Still, it has contributed to questions arising around economic, social, cultural and political senses of belonging and administrative inclusion. In that respect it has weakened the nationalist ideology and organizational unit as the invisible dominant one.
Embedded cosmopolitanism

Embedded cosmopolitanism attempts to ‘combine an account of the moral agent as radically situated with an inclusive scope of ethical concern.’ (Erskine, 2000: 574) In other words, it aims to develop a theory that builds on people’s particular ties and yet involves solidarity across borders. It views cosmopolitanism as on the one hand a moral goal and on the other hand a danger in its impartial version. Embedded cosmopolitanism is traditionally focused on non-state actors, mainly NGOs and church groups, as it views people as embedded in multiple overlapping communities based on their identities. It is not clear how strong communal ties need to be, or whether the shared identity is enough. In other words, the level of institutionalisation in this approach to cosmopolitanism is variable. From the point of view of transnational communities or individuals this is relevant as solidarity is shown across borders and multiple identities are recognized in embedded cosmopolitanism. However, it can be questioned if there is enough of an ‘inclusive scope of ethical concern’ if the only duties preserved are to ‘fellow x-es’ and the basis for these duties is charity rather than justice. (van den Anker, 2000) Still, as before, the duties to particular people based on charity can be felt very strongly; however this does not fill the gap for people whose overlapping communities don’t include these types of connections. In migration studies the importance of networks for access to resources is illustrated both for undocumented migrants or stateless person in transit countries (Khosravi, 2007) and for undocumented migrants in the receiving country (Khosravi, 2010a). Khosravi documents the difference between refugees in transit who have access to networks that can be sent money from home, and those who don’t. The type of smuggler, the route and therefore the chances of success versus the risk of death are determined by it. For undocumented migrants in the receiving country like Sweden he shows that social networks which can be trusted, are important for jobs, accommodation, health care and even access to education.


The way of trying to combine universalism with particularism in embedded cosmopolitanism happens at a cost to universalism as Erskine acknowledges. The moral luck of having relevant transnational ties is definitely not within a universal scope of justice. Still, Erskine’s account comes closest to having a synergy with the view that increased transnationalism will bring about a more universal cosmopolitanism via the backdoor. This may be attractive once the process has reached a stage where everyone’s needs are met in this way, but on the journey there, we can expect some serious suffering to be unresolved due to lack of inclusive networks. At present, the reality of life is that having access to a network of support is enormously important. This is recognized in relatively recent focus on social capital and social network theory. Yet, as we noted previously these networks can also be exploitative as when newcomers are employed under substandard circumstances by established migrant communities. Strong duties towards social networks can also lead to migrants suffering exploitation for longer as there is shame attached to going home empty handed. (Khosravi, 2010a)

The kind of transnationalism contributing to embedded forms of cosmopolitanism are illustrated in the research by Glick Schiller in fundamentalist Christianity as an avenue of migrant local and transnational incorporation. (Glick Schiller 2008) Her research shows that there are various non-ethnic pathways of migrant incorporation and religion is one of them where migrants sometimes consciously opt to build social networks outside their ‘ethnic’ community. The study illustrates that transnational identification goes together with local integration and is not opposed to it in principle. However, the form of transnationalism described does not show affinity for supporting ‘others’ whether in a receiving country or ‘home’ country. The support for migrants and celebration of newcomers are generated by the government and implemented by local authorities and NGOs, not the churches researched. This illustrates again the questions to ask of embedded cosmopolitanism ‘who cares if the duties of charity are not felt strongly enough to take action or are felt only to fellow members of a specific movement or organization? And where exactly is the universalism that is balanced with particularity? The affinity between transnationalism and embedded cosmopolitanism is strong but this coincides with a weak conception of global citizenship which is not based on justice but on charity. It leaves in place the moral luck not only of birthplace but also of subsequent connection into transnational networks of care.


An ethic of hospitality

The ethic of hospitality can be attributed to several different sources. Benhabib looks at Kant’s doctrine of universal hospitality as ‘opening up a space of discourse, a space of articulation, for ‘all human rights claims that are cross- border in scope’ (Benhabib, 2006: 148). The Kantian ethic of hospitality, however, can be seen to underlie current migration regimes which limit entry except for refugees recognised under the criteria of the 1951 Refugee Convention. This leaves in place a Eurocentric system of admission and the substantial risk of leaving many in destitution and immediate danger due to the culture of disbelief. A former border agent acknowledges: ‘The training focuses on how to identify the cheats and send them away. (…) (O)nce you believe that the vast majority of applicants have false stories everyone is under suspicion.’ (Marfleet, 2006: 233)



Although Benhabib (2002) already argued against the asymmetry of the rights to exit one’s country and the right to enter another she falls short of arguing for the rights of migrants to gain membership of their new states and does not promise more than rights to entry and association (Hudson in Lee, 2007) Benhabib’s Kantian duty of hospitality means that strangers must be received without violence. This is both a minimalistic and a meaningful concept of hospitality. Yet, it requires us to make one more move that may find critics disagreeing. If violence is taken literally as attacking or killing we are already living by this norm despite it being violated on occasion. However, if it includes not harming by omitting to fulfill other duties, this norm of hospitality is not solidly grounded in international law or practice. For example, despite it being against the norms in the European Social Charter, undocumented migrants in Sweden die as a result of not having legal access to health care (Khosravi 2010a). Honig defends a version of cosmopolitanism based on Kantian hospitality closer to Derrida’s reading of it. (Honig in Benhabib 2006). Derrida points to the tensions between hospitality and hostility that remain present even after someone who is perceived as a stranger is admitted to ‘our’ space. Finally, there are many references to hospitality in documents on intercultural communication, used in training events. This type of engagement with hospitality is focused on individuals. The Derrida literature on hospitality focuses also on cultures, discourses, and the required policy and legal framework to enhance the ethic, themselves based on the ethic. Whereas Benhabib and others, despite their intellectual homes in discourse analysis, are part of the liberal debate on hospitality and cosmopolitanism that talks about international law and duties of states. Derrida brings together the Kantian notion with Levinas’ philosophy of responsibility to the ‘other’ even before any relationship or reciprocal obligations. (Hudson in Lee, 2007: 227) What does this all mean for the possibility of transnational migration strategies contributing to a cosmopolitan attitude? This account of cosmopolitanism based on a duty of hospitality is interesting in its starting point with the ‘host’ as having a duty – not the rights of the stranger- which means it is presupposed in the notion of human rights. In order for rights and justice to be accessible, a charitable attitude needs to exist first. Hannah Arendt famously wrote there is only one important human right: the right to have rights (quoted in Khosravi, 2010b). This means that for transnational communities there is an ethic of hospitality as underpinned by the recognition necessary for effective accessibility of human rights. However, the warning of Derrida that hospitality is continuously mixed with hostility needs to be taken seriously, too. There may be a background noise of arrogance in ‘hosting’ and ‘welcoming’ especially if it is done on the hosts terms. The perspective is therefore that not transnational communities learn hospitality but that host communities have to; and there is no evidence up to now as to which factors determine whether the citizens of ‘host’ nation-states will react welcoming or rejecting towards uninvited transnational migrants. We do know that making actual connections under the right conditions helps. (van den Anker 2007) Communities around schools have fought the pending deportation of ‘their’ undocumented migrants, for example. There are also relevant social movements to protect destitute failed asylum seekers, to assist with bail conditions for detainees, regularization campaigns for undocumented migrants and a growing movement to create a network of Cities of Sanctuary in the UK. On the state and inter-state level there is increasing support for the Migrant Workers’ Convention and the protection of migrant workers from exploitative labour is increasingly on the international agenda.

The ethic of hospitality literature can provide an interesting combination of universalism (Kantian duties of hospitality) and particularism (migrant accounts). ‘Allowing migrants to contextualise their accounts of the experience of everyday illegality helps readers to explore abstract concepts of policy, law and ethics, and to translate them into cultural terms grounded in everyday life.’ (Khosravi, 2010b)


If we review this partial taxonomy of cosmopolitanisms we can see that it is most likely that embedded cosmopolitanism will be strengthened by cross-border solidarities between specific people, as this type of cosmopolitanism is not universal in its rights and duties of global citizenship. Cosmopolitanism of the type that argues for global justice and redistribution via global taxation is at first sight not strengthened by transnationalism for several reasons. Firstly affinity between transnationalism and egalitarian cosmopolitanism is lacking, because transnationalism is located in particular ties and lacks an underlying principle of equality. Secondly, there is no affinity because of its emphasis on individual agents providing the resources to other individuals without a role for an impartial agency across borders, like the global funds proposed by several cosmopolitan authors. Third, the demands of egalitarianism are duties of justice, not charity, whereas transnationalism relies on individually felt duties even though they may be based on cultural expectations and carried out in families as a unit of concern and agent of action. And fourthly, they are carried out through the state, not individuals or meso-level non-state agents like NGOs, businesses or churches. However, it may be that we need to take a closer look, as remittances are in effect the most effective source of development at the moment, with sums received outgrowing development assistance and foreign direct investment in many countries with high numbers of emigrants. Still, the element of luck in whether or not one receives remittances for example because as a country there is no tradition of migration, or as a family a migration strategy is unobtainable or intergenerational duties are not fulfilled, doesn’t sit comfortably with the universal principles of equal respect in global justice cosmopolitanism.

Cosmopolitanism as hospitality is an interesting form of cosmopolitanism, as in some ways it can be seen as underpinning other cosmopolitan approaches such as the human rights doctrine. In its emphasis of a principle that can be an underpinning value of state-policy or of individual attitudes it will overcome some of the objections towards impartiality as distant and non-particular. Yet, in itself, it can be criticized for moving too fast between hospitality as a normative ideal and an intuitionist account of human nature as hospitable in essence. It is precisely the xenophobia displayed in situations of immigration that sparked off this moral theory identifying the need for hospitality to ‘strangers’.

There is an overwhelming sense that transnationalism looks at the wrong group for its hopefulness about global citizenship and cosmopolitan redistribution. Whereas migrants may show care towards their own social networks (and these can either be birth-communities or communities of similarly displaced people as in Khosravi’s description of unrecognized refugees living in suspension in transit countries) it is not said that their solidarity is valid across borders per se. Moreover, diaspora communities are often wary of newcomers as they feel their position may be threatened. It is a well known phenomenon that oppressed groups start to divide as some will buy into the little privilege that is on offer from the dominant group whereas others can’t or won’t become complicit with their oppressors. An ethic of hospitality would focus the attention on the dominant group and this need to become more accepting of ‘others’. It argues that only when the nation-states system has been re/de-constructed and only when the citizens have been able to recognize non-citizens, stateless, illegal, refugees as they are, then there is a chance for political and ethical survival of human kind.’ (Khosravi, 2010b) Therefore transnational migration patterns may contribute to pushing up against hospitality duties and therefore create the need for further education. Yet they may also create an initial backlash if not guided well. At present the accounts of transnational communities report that even second and third generations experience a lack of hospitality in terms of meaningful integration and acceptance for both being equal and different.


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