Unbelonging : Caryl Phillips and the ethics of disaffiliation

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This chapter suggest that the task at hand is not to deplore Caryl Phillips’s adherence to old-fashioned humanism, but rather to reconstruct the kind of ethical argument he feels sanctions the literary practice rooted in the conflation of different historical experiences. Phillips’s embrace of cosmopolitanism is most clearly visible in his rejection of both physical rootedness and of a whole range of identity-based claims. The impossibility is an obsessive presence in Phillips’s fictional and nonfictional writings. The difficulty with both of the critical attitudes is that they refuse to take seriously Phillips’s commitment to cosmopolitanism and the attendant moral universalism. Cosmopolitanism is, Phillips seems to suggest, always an unfinished business. As James Ingram points out, cosmopolitanism generally entails a complex dialectic of disaffiliation and moral commitment: when cosmopolitans reject narrow loyalties, they generally do so because they believe that such loyalties stand in the way of cosmopolitanism’s central ethical imperative, religious, should count as objects of moral concern”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe limits of cosmopolitanism : globalization and its discontents in contemporary literature
EditorsAleksandar STEVIĆ , Philip TSANG
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780429030666
ISBN (Print)9781138502048
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Comparative Literature


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