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Imagined Cosmopolis

Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870s–1920s


Edited By Charlotte Ashby, Grace Brockington, Daniel Laqua and Sarah Victoria Turner

The period from the 1870s to the 1920s was marked by an interplay between nationalisms and internationalisms, culminating in the First World War, on the one hand, and the creation of the League of Nations, on the other. The arts were central to this debate, contributing both to the creation of national traditions and to the emergence of ideas, objects and networks that forged connections between nations or that enabled internationalists to imagine a different world order altogether. The essays presented here explore the ways in which the arts operated internationally during this crucial period of nation-making, and how they helped to challenge national conceptions of citizenship, society, homeland and native tongue. The collection arises from the AHRC-funded research network Internationalism and Cultural Exchange, 1870–1920 (ICE; 2009–2014) and its enquiry into the histories of cultural internationalism and their historiographical implications.

This collection has been edited by members of the ICE network convened by Grace Brockington and Sarah Victoria Turner.

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1. Introduction: Cosmopolitanism and the Individual (Daniel Laqua)


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1   Introduction: Cosmopolitanism and the Individual

The title of this book refers to both internationalism and cosmopolitanism, yet the relationship between these two phenomena has often been oppositional. As Glenda Sluga has shown, internationalism tended to be construed in national terms.1 Accordingly, many of its proponents argued that their attachment to the nation set them apart from cosmopolitans. Georgios Varouxakis has noted this distinction, pointing out that ‘the majority of internationalists of different hues tried hard to take their distances from the strong negative connotations of the terms associated with “cosmopolitanism”’.2 Indeed, when the American legal scholar Paul Reinsch reviewed the work of international organizations in 1911, he consciously distinguished this development from the ‘old cosmopolitanism’. According to Reinsch, the latter had lacked ‘constructive force’ as it had ‘cast aside and spurned all the relations and institutions in which our national and communal life has had its being’.3 Similarly, during the Great War, the British historian Ramsay Muir presented cosmopolitanism as older and less suited to tackling the challenges of the present: ‘Internationalism could not exist ← 15 | 16 → until Nationalism had established itself’. To Muir, it therefore seemed clear that internationalism would have to ‘take the place of Cosmopolitanism’.4

This is not to say that cosmopolitanism was always cast as antithetical to the nation. Indeed, some nineteenth-century thinkers argued for its compatibility with national categories and ideas.5 For instance, Giuseppe Mazzini’s fusing of European principles and national...

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