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Dealing with Disasters in an Age of Globalized Sentiment: Testing the Boundaries of the Cosmopolitan Ideal?

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AbstractNatural disasters, such as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, have not only tested the fragility of the world capitalist system, but have asked questions of the ‘cosmopolitan ideal’ that underpins the discourse on global civil society prevalent in much literature on globalization. In this article I consider why the global response to such tragedies is markedly different to the more muted response to more overtly political tragedies, such as atrocities committed by states, and suggests that what it demonstrates is not a full cosmopolitanism per se, but a ‘selective cosmopolitanism’ grounded in a ‘de-politicization of feeling’. As a result, the political context of these natural disasters is often ignored and this calls for a repositioning of such disasters within a human rights framework and for an analysis of them informed by a critical globalization studies.

Affiliations: 1: University of


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