chapter  13
12 Pages

Cosmopolitan provincialism in a comparative perspective DOROTA KOŁODZIEJCZYK

Recent debates on the dwindling resources for comparatism in postcolonial studies call for a questioning of both its disciplinary boundaries and the consequences of its ostensibly global horizons. That postcolonialism has become a globally inflected critical practice hardly needs corroborating; a range of theorists have discussed (often critically) the field’s affinity to globalization studies. Thus Simon Gikandi, even while acknowledging the crucial contribution of such critics as Arjun Appadurai or Homi Bhabha to the articulation of ‘cosmopolitan subjectivities’ borne of postcolonial migrations, issues a warning against modes of reading that continue to privilege ‘familiar tropes of postcolonial theory’ such as hybridity or transgression, obliterating the ‘unfamiliar, but equally powerful local scenes of being and belonging’ (2001: 639). In the first section of this volume, he reiterates and extends this idea by locating the marginal figure of the refugee at the centre of global cosmopolitanism. Timothy Brennan articulates a similar critique, seeing cosmopolitanism as the dominant ideology of the diasporic elite, ‘less an expansive ethos than an expansionist policy’ (1997: 55). In her efforts to endorse a new understanding of comparative literature whose foundational ethos should be of reading closely in the original, G. C. Spivak elaborates a notion of ‘planetarity’ as a difference-sensitive mode of being in the world that refuses to yield to the flattening effects of global systems (2003: 71). The metaphor of the good translation that never exhausts difference reverberates here with Brennan’s critique of ‘cosmo-theory’ as a translation whose goal is to co-opt difference.