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April 23, 2024

Reviving Cosmopolitanism through a Cultural and Spiritual Turn

Event Series: Ways Forward in a Divided World

Showing the Reviving Cosmopolitanism through a Cultural and Spiritual Turn Video

A cosmopolitan worldview is more important than ever today in light of the global challenges we face, from climate crisis to pandemics to war. Instead we see an eruption of hyper-nationalisms around the world—a last-ditch effort to rebuild the legitimacy and sovereignty of the nation-state, which has been undermined by economic globalization. Amid this fragmentation, Ranjit Hoskote has drawn attention to the rich cultural and spiritual resources that affirm our global humanity—resources that transcend the national and civilizational divides that characterize our contemporary world.

How do diverse cultural and religious traditions conceive of the unity of humankind and harmony with nature? How might an insurgent cosmopolitanism that draws on these resources address the global challenges we face today? Are there positive historical examples of cosmopolitanisms in action that are relevant for contemporary transnational activism? Ranjit Hoskote, José Casanova, and Asma Shakeel explored these questions in a conversation moderated by Katherine Marshall.

This event was part of the Georgetown Global Dialogues, which feature leading intellectuals from the Global South in forward-looking conversations with U.S.-based thinkers across a range of topics. It was co-sponsored by the Center on Faith and Justice, Georgetown Humanities Initiative, Lannan Center, and Office of Mission & Ministry at Georgetown University. 


Headshot of Ranjit Hoskote.

Ranjit Hoskote

Ranjit Hoskote is an Indian poet, theorist, and curator whose influential work centers on the complex history and presence of cultural pluralism from the local to the global. He has authored eight books of poetry—including Icelight (2022), Jonahwhale (2018), and a translation of a fourteenth-century Kashmiri mystic-poet, I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Dĕd (2011)—and the acclaimed book Confluences: Forgotten Histories between East and West (2012, with Ilija Trojanow). Hoskote has curated more than 50 showcases of Indian and global art over the past three decades, including India’s first national pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Headshot of José Casanova.

José Casanova

José Casanova is one of the world’s leading scholars in the sociology of religion and a senior fellow at the Berkley Center. He is also professor emeritus at Georgetown University, where he previously taught in the Department of Sociology and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. His best-known work, Public Religions in the Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 1994), has become a modern classic in the field and has been translated into several languages, including Japanese, Arabic, and Turkish. In 2012, Casanova was awarded the Theology Prize from the Salzburger Hochschulwochen in recognition of his life-long achievement in the field of theology.

Headshot of Asma Shakeel.

Asma Shakeel

Asma Shakeel is a senior at Georgetown University in Qatar majoring in international history. She is the Provost’s Distinguished Undergraduate Research Fellow for the 2023-2024 academic year and is a 2024 Rhodes Scholar-Elect from India. As a student publications assistant at the Center for International and Regional Studies, she has spent the last year copyediting books on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. A prospective historian and conservationist, Asma plans to obtain a master of studies degree in global and imperial history while continuing her higher education at the University of Oxford.

Headshot of Katherine Marshall.

Katherine Marshall

Katherine Marshall is a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and a professor of the practice of development, conflict, and religion in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She helped to create and now serves as the executive director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue and is a member of the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Marshall was also a World Bank officer from 1971 to 2006 and led the World Bank’s faith and ethics initiative between 2000 and 2006.