Exploring why attempts to construct a cosmopolitan order tend to be followed by greater forces of division and disorder

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
Part I
1. “Cosmopolitan” Order in Theory and World History
Part II
2. Kantian Cosmopolitanism
3. World Communism
4. Postcolonial Cosmopolitanism
5. Green Cosmopolitics
Part III
6. Cosmopolitan Politics in a Disorderly World


While the idea of a cosmopolitan order embracing all humankind is ancient, after the Cold War it was widely believed to be an emerging future. As global interdependence and interaction through new technologies increased, literature of cosmopolitan globalization argued that these changes were setting the stage for a structural transformation of world politics. Yet, a revolt against globalism and increasingly divisive and unstable international order has dramatically contradicted this idea. This presents a puzzle for International Relations theory: Why have attempts to construct cosmopolitan order struggled to emerge in the modern global world? 

Cosmopolitan Imaginaries and International Disorder argues that advocacy for cosmopolitan order reform in the modern world has struggled to recognize the political identities of states and populations and to legitimize its proposed political hierarchies. As a result, these efforts have been overwhelmed by states shoring up their power and remobilizing exclusionary nationalist identities, especially when struggles are intensified in contexts of international instability and economic turmoil. In developing a theory to explain these patterns of cosmopolitan politics, this book offers insight into the limits and role of cosmopolitanism in a dividing international order after liberal globalism.

Aaron C. McKeil is Academic Director at LSE IDEAS, in the London School of Economics and Political Science.