This workshop is one of five workshops funded under ASSA’s International Science Linkage (ISL) program in 2010-11. ASSA’s ISL Workshop program was funded by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and administered by the Academy, with the aim of promoting access to and participation by Australian social researchers in strategically focussed, leading edge, international researchers and their research findings and increasing strategic alliances between Australian and overseas social science researchers and institutions.

Cosmopolitanism has re-emerged in the last two decades as a major focus for debates about social change, globalization, and cultural difference. It also represents a major theme in questions of public policy and political ethics suited to the challenges of a global society. The massive proliferation of research generated has however overwhelmed any single attempt to encapsulate the meaning, relevance, and limits of cosmopolitanism, either as a way of understanding global change or constructing new political institutions (Beck, 2006; Fine 2007; Kendall, Woodward and Skrbis 2004, 2009). The proposed workshop would address the challenges associated with this state of affairs, drawing on Australian and international research.

Cosmopolitanism is both an important fact of the contemporary world and also a normative ideal related to increasing global awareness and empathy amongst citizens, and the desirability of peace rather than war. It is also associated with greater cooperation and communication between states to address issues which require solutions beyond the jurisdiction of any one nation-state (Fine 2007; Holton 2009; Kendall, Woodward, Skrbis 2009). The full realisation of a cosmopolitan global society may appear a utopian fantasy. Yet being able to think `ourselves beyond the nation’ (Appadurai 1996), beyond national citizenship (Soysal 1994), and beyond the fixities of time and space is becoming not only easier, but also increasingly vital in an age where global issues manifest and effervesce locally. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that Australia, like all other nations to some degree or another, is undergoing a process of cosmopolitanisation. The consequences of this process confronts Australian citizens on an everyday basis in the form of bubbling public issues related to migration, global environmental issues, matters of national sovereignty, the deleterious impacts of global economic processes and the flow of different cultural goods such as movies or music.

This development comes under the rubric of what Beck (2006) and other theorists have called `cosmopolitanisation’. Part of the social scientific challenge of such an idea is findings its articulation at the level of the `really existing’ layer of everyday life and it is here we can turn to the notion of the civil sphere to explore the impact of such cosmopolitanisation processes on the lives of citizens. The idea of the civil sphere has been important for understanding the constitution of social collectives which are formed as a result of the feelings and connections within and amongst citizens (Habermas 1989; Alexander 2006). In the terms posited by cosmopolitanisation theory, the civil sphere of any nation is shaped by national and local events, but also increasingly by events outside its borders. Thus, the processes which tie citizens together, including the legal and normative processes by which disputes are resolved, cultural differences negotiated and hospitalities afforded, is determined significantly by international contexts and their playing out in local contexts.

Australia’s embeddedness within such global networks is a sign of our dependency on such sets of connections. But this embeddedness presents opportunities and challenges not just in terms of Australia’s economic health, but also in terms of its social and cultural cohesion. There has been little systematic examination of Australian society through application of the civil sphere model and an important goal of this workshop is to think through the place of the nation-state and the national civil sphere within the context of the challenges of cosmopolitanisation theory. This rendering of theories of the civil sphere in the context of cosmopolitanism theory is a significant point of innovation within this proposal. Such an innovation allows models of the civil sphere – previously principally nation-state bound – to be dynamically influenced by the global and mobile frameworks which underpin cosmopolitanism theory. This workshop will focus on four substantive themes in relation to these cosmopolitanisation processes: 1) migration, 2) culture, 3) nation-state governance in the global era, 4) everyday forms of cosmopolitan engagement within Australia.

The aim of this workshop is to gather together an interdisciplinary mix of scholars, who are geographically dispersed and at different career stages, to examine the way Australian society is being shaped and challenged by this cosmopolitanisation process. Specifically, the workshop’s scholarly goals are to: (i) understand theoretically the effect of these cosmopolitanisation processes on various aspects of Australian society and culture, (ii) apply diverse empirical approaches to understanding the way cosmopolitanisation processes effect the civil sphere of Australian society within a range of spheres, from health, urban life and to social cohesion, (iii) apply the insights of leading international researchers to understand the composition and make-up of national civil spheres – particularly that of Australia – in the context of the global networks it is a part of.

The workshop is convened by scholars who have been at the forefront of recent international developments in studies of globalisation and cosmopolitanism theory (Prof Robert Holton, ASSA Fellow, Trinity College Dublin), migration and transnationalism (Prof. Zlatko Skrbis, The University of Queensland) and culture, consumption and cosmopolitanism (Dr Ian Woodward, Griffith University). Drawing on their international networks, this convenorship team has assembled a mix of very senior international scholars who can shed light on different dimensions of the cosmopolitanisation process. Professor David Held, Graham Wallace Professor of Economics and Head of the LSE Global Governance Centre at the London School of Economics, is perhaps the foremost theorist on globalisation and questions of cosmopolitan governance. Likewise, Professor Mica Nava, Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London, is the most influential cultural analyst of historical, embodied and domestic forms of cosmopolitan engagement. Professor Brenda Yeoh, Professor in the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore, is a global expert on cities, population flows and transnationalism. All of these very senior global researchers have enthusiastically agreed to participate in this workshop. We have also invited a mix of Australian scholars, at different career stages and institutionally dispersed, whose work sits at the core of the questions we wish to deal with in the workshop. The workshop will be an excellent opportunity for international exchange and provide a platform for potential future research collaboration.