“At Home in the World”: Hong Kong as a Cosmopolitan City in Xu Xi’s The Unwalled City

Melody Yunzi Li’s “‘At Home in the World”: Hong Kong as a Cosmopolitan City in Xu Xi’s The Unwalled City” appears in Telos 180 (Fall 2017), a special issue on Cosmopolitanism and China. Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store.

Hong Kong is unique for its hybrid nature in language and culture. Drawing upon Ulf Hannerz’s model of cosmopolitans and locals, this paper argues that Hong Kongese are cosmopolitans and locals in one, other than the dichotomy raised by Hannerz. The paper considers how Xu Xi’s novel The Unwalled City questions any overarching or simplified understanding of cosmopolitanism and its utopian parlance of seamless linguistic-cultural coexistence. For Xu Xi, writing in English provides a crucially literary tactic with which to construct her multiple ethnic identities and eclectic images.

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Susanna Rizzo on the History and Future of European Identity

In this video from the 2014 Telos in Europe Conference, Susanna Rizzo discusses her work on the complex history of the idea of Europe, how it has been shaped by discourses about place and the other, and then considers what the future will be for an increasingly pluralized Europe in which the notion of European identity has been reformulated.

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Religion beyond Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft: On Rowan Williams’s Faith in the Public Square

This is the second of three papers delivered at a seminar on religion and politics that was organized with Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, on the occasion of his recent book Faith in the Public Square. The seminar was held at Radboud University in December 2013. The first paper, by Martijn de Koning, appears here. The third paper, by Herman Westerink, will be posted here shortly.

According to the publisher of Faith in the Public Square, “Archbishop Rowan Williams is the most gifted Anglican priest of his generation. His views are consistent and orthodox and yet he has been consistently misunderstood.” Now maybe this is just another case of misunderstanding, but I doubt, not whether Rowan Williams is the most gifted priest of his generation, but whether his views are really that orthodox. In my understanding of that term—though I should stress that my vocabulary is not first and foremost theological—Faith in the Public Square is far from an orthodox book. It is unafraid to challenge received opinions, both religious and other kinds. This for instance shows itself in Williams’s consistent challenging of a dichotomy that has long shaped Western social and political thought, namely that of Gemeinschaft versus Gesellschaft, or of community versus society. What I am referring to is the idea that there is a sharp distinction between, on the one hand, traditional social bonds based on a robust shared identity resulting in organic solidarity—that would be Gemeinschaft—and on the other hand typically modern organizations of collective life in the form of negotiated interests and impersonal contracts—which would be Gesellschaft (and I’ll stick to the German terms because these bring out the contrast most clearly).

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After Hume: James and Husserl on Identity

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Christian Kronsted looks at Lowell A. Dunlap’s “Hume, James, and Husserl on the Self,” from Telos 2 (Fall 1968).

With the publication of A Treatise Of Human Nature, David Hume turned the philosophical community of his time upside down with his provocative skepticism and denial of a cohesive self. Since its initial publication, Hume’s claim that the self is nothing but a bundle of perceptions has plagued philosophers and psychologists alike, and has inspired many to completely abandon the idea of a coherent self. Yet a central question remains largely unanswered: if there is not a self, what is doing the thinking, and how is it done? If a person does not have a “self,” how come human beings think of themselves as unique and separate entities that have subjective experiences? Lowell A. Dunlap’s article “Hume, James, and Husserl on the Self” investigates how William James and Edmund Husserl tackled the notion of personal identity in the aftermath of Hume’s philosophy.

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Rethinking the Left’s Political Project

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Johanna Schenner looks at Federico Stame’s “The Crisis of the Left and New Social Identities,” from Telos 60 (Summer 1984).

In “The Crisis of the Left and New Social Identities” (1984), Federico Stame addresses the problems encountered by left-wing ideologies and political parties, such as the banality of their demands, as well as deeper underlying issues, such as the falling away of the friend-foe nexus in politics. He also provides hope for improvement by invoking the leading role of new social identities in renewing the tradition of the political Left.

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New Identities and the Universalistic Moral System

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Yonathan Listik looks at Jürgen Habermas’s “On Social Identity,” from Telos 19 (Spring 1974).

Jürgen Habermas’s objective in “On Social Identity” is clearly defending the usage of instrumental rationality toward the development of a universal morality. For Habermas, the new social identity should be constructed through universalistic moral systems, thereby eliminating possible frictions or incoherence present in modern society. The obsolescence of the state and its replacement by autonomous means of identity construction, such as art, already point to his emphasis on a more particular form of identity construction.

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