Mar 30, 2016

Globalization, Supranational Dynamics and Local Experience

European Sociological Association 
RN 15 Global, Transnational and Cosmopolitan Sociology
Mid-Term Conference
“Globalization, supranational dynamics and local experience”
15-16 April, 2016, Milan (Italy)
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
One of the main challenges that sociology and social sciences face today is to understand how individuals, collective actors and structures cope with the dilemmas, tensions and ambivalences of modern societies embedded in supranational dynamics. This interim meeting of RN 15 on global, transnational and cosmopolitan sociology calls for papers dealing theoretically, methodologically and empirically with issues related to the transnational dimension. We welcome all manner of papers that deal with how the local, the transnational and the global are entwined and construct the meaning of one another, and how individuals, organizations or states manage this predicament for instance by emphasizing a cosmopolitan outlook or by cherishing local culture. We also encourage papers that deal with the current intensification of migration and asylum seeking in Europe from the perspective of local-global entanglement.
Within the conference (programme), I will give the following lecture. 
Double Boundary and Cosmopolitan Experience in Europe
Pierluca Birindelli
This contribution aims to open up the debate about national, European and cosmopolitan identity through an interpretation of Simmel’s double boundary dialectic: human beings are boundaries and only those who stand outside their boundary can see it as such. One of the difficulties of defining oneself as European stems from what could be called the “double Other” (intra- and extra-European) diachronic recognition process. Exploring the possible/impossible cosmopolitan meta-synthesis can identify certain traits of the cosmopolitan experience in Europe. Furthermore, a critical interpretation of the intellectual, aesthetic and romantic representation of a “Europe without Europeans” suggests that travelling to or within the Old World (North–South; East–West) does not necessarily mean crossing social and cultural boundaries. Therefore the cosmopolitan globetrotter might not be the best “broker of knowledge” in our globalized world. As for the mental life of the metropolis represented by Simmel, in a G-world even socio-psychological life might degenerate into a series of defensive mechanisms. The boundaries could become the walls of an overinflated self: a social actor who fails to mediate between objective and subjective culture. Clearly, a cosmopolitan individual can cross national boundaries. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find evidence of any real transcending of class barriers and physical rather than mythical divisions. It would appear that, if and when they do occur, transcultural travel experiences are not necessarily trans-social.
Key words: Boundary, Simmel, Europe, Cosmopolitan, Transcultural, Trans-social

Mar 16, 2016


It all began in May of 2011 when I was studying abroad in Florence under a man whose name rings familiar to college students across the world- Pierluca Birindelli. Pierluca approached education with much more freedom than the typical college professor. There was rarely a defined topic on a paper, no page minimum or maximum (or suggestion for that matter) and most astounding of all- papers could be handwritten. In a class of American students accustomed to a strict adherence to the syllabus and detailed study guides, there was a glaring disconnect…
… The course I enrolled in with Professor Birindelli was titled Identity and Culture in Italy: A Comparative Approach. The course centered on identity and awareness, specifically during the passage from youth to adulthood. Identity to find purpose in life and awareness to understand how that purpose fit into a global environment. I cannot claim to have understood the entirety of these concepts at just 21 years old, but I never stopped trying. 
I had caught the travel bug.
To satisfy my need for adventure, I sought out a career in college admissions. If you haven’t seen the Tina Fey movie, admissions counselors are assigned a territory to recruit prospective students based on a region of states such as the Mid-Atlantic or New England. Fortunately, I was able to land a position with a territory spanning Chicago to Miami, allowing for unlimited travel within my jurisdiction. Nearly five years after my abroad experience I have logged close to 50,000 miles and met people from all over the world, witnessing firsthand how travel can shape both identity and awareness. There are numerous surface reasons why travel is beneficial, however, I have identified three underlying reasons that inspire my wanderlust.  
  1. I want to know.
  2. I want to perpetually push the limits of my comfort zone.
  3. I want to be a Global Citizen.
… Continue reading at Matt Ouimette’s blog: MATTWEMETT