Globalizing and Pluralizing Culture: A comparative perspective Anna Triandafyllidou, EUI in collaboration with Prof. Peggy Levitt, Wellesley College, Boston, MA.


Increased mobility and intensified mixity dynamics challenge long-standing assumptions about how people live and how social institutions function—how and where individuals raise their families, how class and gender are constituted, how livelihoods are earned, and where the rights and responsibilities of citizenship get fulfilled. But while more and more people live transnational lives, they are still served by legal, pension, education, political, and health care systems that are stubbornly national in nature and scope. The social contract between state and citizen is national while many people’s lives are not. This multi-year project supported through annual fellowships and smaller grants seeks to answer the following research questions:

Ø  Where are different understandings of nations and identities produced that better reflect people’s mobile lives?

o   How are the global, the national, and the local created and represented in relation to each other?

o   How are processes and institutions that transcend national borders transforming our understanding of “the nation” and its place in the world?

Ø  What is the role of cultural, educational, and political institutions in shaping and responding to these articulations?

Ø  How is ethnic and religious pluralism being managed in ways that help create successful diverse societies?

o   What new answers to these questions are emerging outside the West?


Within this wider framework, we are currently developing together with Dr Jeremie Molho and Dr Nick Dines (EUI) and Dr Ester Gallo (University of Trento) a pilot project on large urban centres in Asia and Africa, that are and/or aspire to become ‘global cities’. The project is inscribed in a burgeoning literature on globalization, urban development and transnationalism studies. It develops through a comparison between city cases that have hitherto been treated separately in the literature: established ‘global cities’ like Singapore and Dubai; aspiring regional magnets like Mumbai, Bangalore, Doha, Cape Town and the Casablanca/Rabat conurbation. We investigate how different stakeholders manage existing ethnic and religious diversity within the city (inward looking dimension) and build a (seemingly) coherent model of a global city of the 21st century (outward looking dimension). The project seeks to make a contribution to the literature on transnationalism, cultural diversity and urban studies


Our main research questions are:

How are ‘native’ elements of culture, ethnicity, religion, nationhood negotiated in and perhaps inform global city policies and institutions?

How are these elements negotiated in global cities where the national identity framework is presented as mono-cultural and mono-religious (e.g. Doha, Dubai and Casablanca/Rabat) compared to those in which cultural, religious and ethnic diversity is inscribed as constitutive of their history (e.g. Mumbai, Bangalore, Cape Town and Singapore)? What are the tensions between the city, the national and the macro-regional or global level?

Do these global cities testify to the emergence of a new late modern cosmopolitanism or to a ‘new national’ through the global?


Duration of the pilot project: Sep 2017-Dec 2018