Reconsidering the ethics of cosmopolitan memory: In the name of difference and memories to-come

Philosophy and Social Criticism (2023)
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Departing from what Levey and Sznaider (2002) in their seminal work ‘Memory Unbound’ refer to as ‘cosmopolitan memory’ that emerges as one of the fundamental forms ‘collective memories take in the age of globalization’, this article will consider the underlying ethical implications of global memory formation that have yet to be adequately theorized. Since global disseminations of local memory cultures and the implicit canonization of its traumas are intimately related to the concept of archive, I will first focus on what Derrida (1996) in Archive Fever calls ‘archival violence’ and will show its inherent relation to the formation of cosmopolitan memory. Another related concept that I will use and that will problematize the transformation of living, embodied memory into archival, cultural memory upon which the formation of cosmopolitan memory depends is the witness. Using Agamben’s writing (2002) in this context that in Remnants of Auschwitz focuses on the foundational (im)possibilities of bearing witness, I will show that this transformation that determines the very possibility of cosmopolitan memory is far from unproblematic and readily accessible as Levy and Sznaider seem to assume. What will emerge as the most distinctive concern of global memory formation is the ethical material of difference as that which both makes its imperatives historically and politically exigent and that which signifies the difficulties of its unified articulation. Solidarity with the suffering of the other that mobilizes the very formation of cosmopolitan memory is also what should solicit vigilance against the universalistic ritualizations of its prerogatives.

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Zlatan Filipovic
University of Gothenburg

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References found in this work

A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia.Gilles Deleuze - 1987 - London: Athlone Press. Edited by Félix Guattari.
Archive fever: a Freudian impression.Jacques Derrida - 1996 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Critique et clinique.Gilles Deleuze - 1993 - Les Editions de Minuit.

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