Grassroots Cosmopolitics: Critical Notes on a 'Cosmopolitan Africa'

Fouquet, Thomas
Taylor & Francis Group
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African Identities
African Identities, Volume 16, Number 2, May 2018, pp. 219-230

What is really at stake when talking about a 'cosmopolitan Africa'? How does such a questioning articulate with the meta-narratives that, over history, have depicted this continent as en entity locked on itself and mainly characterized by stagnation rather than motion? Finally, how to engage with the political dimensions resorting to cosmopolitan aspirations and expressions in Africa, among everyday people rather than elites, and in contrast with the Eurocentric 'abstract universalism' that frequently impregnates narratives on cosmopolitanism? Drawing on 15 years of anthropological research among young Senegalese women who frequent daily the Dakar by Night, this paper aims at raising issues resorting to such grassroots cosmopolitics. In this view, I stress the need to focus on cosmopolitanism as a social practice that carries inherent critical if not political dimensions, in line with the harshness of local living conditions but also with the distortion of power balance at a global level, that is, describing a critical cosmopolitanism by contrast. In a same line, cosmopolitanism is introduced first as a posture, and more broadly as a specific field of experiences from which nobody is to be excluded a priori, irrespective of economical, social, political and symbolical power.

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CITATION: Fouquet, Thomas. Grassroots Cosmopolitics: Critical Notes on a 'Cosmopolitan Africa' . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , . African Identities, Volume 16, Number 2, May 2018, pp. 219-230 - Available at:

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