Ökumenen, Nischen, Module
Varianten kosmopolitischer Milieus
Cosmopolitanism is a noble attitude, often evoked as an antidote against the perilous antagonisms of ethnic, religious or other identifications. However, for anthropology the virtues of cosmopolitanism have a dubious quality as they require a distancing from the local cultural and social backgrounds which we take for granted. Cosmopolitanism, it is argued, has historically emerged either in «ecumenes», i.e. particular Great Traditions with universalist claims but clearly marked off from other similar universes, or in niche societies like the so-called Levantines, a heterogenous collection of auxiliaries to occidental penetration in the Middle East. Retrospectively, the dissolution of this niche cosmopolitanism in national and subnational communities is deplored, while the elitist and «comprador» qualities of the Levantine universe tend to fade from sight. A contemporary cosmopolitanism, by contrast, would have to take its universalist commitments more seriously, and thus have to be based on «thin culture», on a truly «modular» social universe. The difference between this and «ecumene- cosmopolitanism» is not widely recognized, with the problem that pleas for «cosmopolitan virtues» often amount to a call for «them» to become more or less like «us».