Inner foreigners and disquieting strangers. Cosmopolitanism at the frontiers of the Self

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Besides a capacity to identify what is different, surprising or even strange, cosmopolitan aspirations seem to require an openness to and an acceptation of individual or collective particularities that go beyond the frontiers of our selfhood. They even seem to require a capacity to relate to ourselves by means of foreign languages, arts, beliefs and other forms of living expressing what is fundamentally universal and common. Yet, the project of extending to the whole world the rights and isonomia of our own polis is seldom confronted with a true human difficulty in relating to or in being hospitable to foreigners and strangers who deprive us from the satisfaction of our own ideals, thus being considered as a threat to our personal or collective identities. Nonetheless, if selfhood emerges from a plurality of involuntary relations within the radical surprise of life, as signalled in the strange intimacy of drives, dreams, affects and desires, and if identities stem from a series of non reflected or even unconscious identifications, conditioned by the extimacy of transient circumstances and contingent historical institutions, aren’t the menacing strangers rather a projection of our own (sometimes disquieting) constitutive otherness? Drawing on Julia Kristeva’s and Richard Kearney’s readings of Freud’s "The Uncanny" - respectively in "Strangers to Ourselves" and in "Strangers, Gods and Monsters" - we would like to question the possibility of a cosmopolitan community, aware of its uneasiness and limits, in which the acceptance of others and of their particularities seems to be inseparable from (and perhaps coextensive with) the openness to and the recognition of our own radical foreignness.
Period15 Jun 2022
Event titleCosmopolitan Self: Online international conference
Event typeConference
LocationLisbon, PortugalShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Selfhood
  • Identity
  • Otherness
  • Hospitality
  • Strangeness