I will present a lecture, “Transversal Cosmopolitanism and the Global Novel,” at the Cosmopolitanism vs. Globalization Symposium, sponsored by the Department of Jewish Thought, the Humanities Institute, and the Baldy Center at the University at Buffalo, on Monday, October 23, in 508 O’Brian Hall.
Transversal cosmopolitanism offers resistance to both the hegemony and homogeneity of globalization through the highlighting of incommensurable cultural difference, the fostering of creative appropriation, and an exposure to alternative systems of belief or idioms.
Cosmopolitanism occupies the same pathways of (de)differentiation and (de)territorialization as globalization, but at every point its relation to the hegemonic flow is transversal rather than oppositional, diagonal rather than dialectical. Transversality in Deleuze and Guattari’s “lines of flight” accounts for hybridity, the combination of elements that correspond obliquely on what would otherwise be separate and non-communicating pathways. Transversals are “double captures” with the potential for change that affects both elements in a correspondence.
I read the post-9/11 global novel as an expression of transversal politics, as narratives that expose the différend which resists translation into a single global idiom; and I identify those characters who are cosmopolites, global citizens, who instigate a shared deterritorialization or double capture, or who may be types of an ethnocentric nationalism advanced in the 2016 Presidential election that is in the process of transversal transformation. I examine four novels that traverse in bi-social fashion the fractious relationship between Islam and the west. Amy Waldman’s The Submission (2011) and Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land (2007) confront the profiling, racism, and backlash towards Muslims in America after 9/11. The protagonists of both novels are well-educated professionals and nonobservant Muslims who are forced by political circumstance to reconsider their citizenship, their practices, and their faith. Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) and Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King (2012) reconsider the American abroad who is both naïf and ugly in his encounter with the other, innocent and guilty of the civilized savaging of a foreign land. All four protagonists leave the US to become global citizens.