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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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10. Synoptic Outlooks: Cosmopolitan Vision and the Arts and Crafts Movement (Rosie Ibbotson)


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10   Synoptic Outlooks: Cosmopolitan Vision and the Arts and Crafts Movement

This chapter considers some entanglements of cosmopolitanism and notions of community within the Arts and Crafts Movement. Even separately, these aspects of the Arts and Crafts have been underplayed in the scholarship, which has instead tended to pursue a narrower focus, privileging charismatic objects and buildings, and biographical research into their designers. However, while both cosmopolitanism and ideas about community were variously expressed in the Arts and Crafts, in some senses they were paired phenomena, both aspects of a search for human connections unmediated by the boundaries of political structures such as the nation-state.1 Furthermore, both cosmopolitanism and community within the Arts and Crafts could be actual or imagined, or anywhere along a spectrum between the two. Some of the Movement’s protagonists are difficult to locate in this regard, their varied activities synthesizing theories and practices of cosmopolitanism, community and much more besides. One such figure is Patrick Geddes (1854–1932), and this chapter will focus principally on collaborative projects for which he was the driving force, and which illuminate neglected aspects of the Arts and Crafts. In addition to cosmopolitanism and community, other themes emerging from this discussion include vision, the idea of the city, and a concern with ‘science’, all of which Geddes utilized to interpret and foster social relations on local and global scales.

A biologist, reformer, sociologist, educator and theorist of town planning,...

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