A City of Refuge for Innocents: Cosmopolitanism as an Interruption



In this chapter, we use a Derridian understanding of cosmopolitanism to show why and how human relationships ought to be guided by a consideration to cultivate unconditional hospitality. As an attempt to accentuate the latter view of unconditional hospitality we rely on Derrida’s explication of interruption as an act of forgiveness to show how forgiving the unforgiveable paves the way for human encounters enveloped by unconditional hospitality. We argue that such an understanding of unconditional hospitality guided by the act of forgiveness has much to offer to the contention against hatred, resentment, torture, genocide and other crimes against humanity. More specifically, we show that Derrida pushes the boundaries of the concept by invoking a notion of interruption that advances Nussbaum’s rationalistic view of cosmopolitanism. Derrida offers an explanation for cosmopolitanism as an interruption that might not seem possible, but yet manifests in human practices. If something does not initially seem possible, then there must be the possibility that such something might not occur. And, it is quite possible, following Derrida, that cosmopolitanism might not happen, more specifically, it might not unfold in patterns of human engagement


Cosmopolitanism Relationships Unconditional hospitality Interruption Forgiveness Human encounters Forgiveness Hatred Torture Crimes against humanity Human practices Human engagement 


  1. Derrida, J. (2010). On cosmopolitanism and forgiveness (M. Dooley & M. Hughes, Trans.). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Nussbaum, M. (2000). Cultivating humanity: A classical defense of reform in liberal education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of MalawiZombaMalawi
  3. 3.Department of AccountingUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa
  4. 4.Centre for Innovative Learning TechnologyCape Peninsula University of TechnologyCape TownSouth Africa
  5. 5.Faculty of EducationCape Peninsula University of TechnologyMowbraySouth Africa

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