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Cosmopolitan Confluences

Cosmopolitan Confluences

Type of group

Network group

Area focus

Transregional research group


Guido Snel


Luiza Bialasiewicz
Milou van Hout
Enno Maessen
Ahmed Nuri
Lora Sariaslan
Guido Snel
Ozan Tekin
Maria Urban
Claske Vos

External partners

Netherlands Institute Istanbul; EUNIC The Netherlands; De Brakke Grond; Italian Cultural Institute; Ondertussen, Castrum Peregrini; Read My World literary festival

Research programme

The notion of confluence is taken from Ilija Trojanow and Ranjit Hoskote’s book ConfluencesForgotten Histories from East and West (2012). Departing from the idea of a river as a confluence of many, often anonymous side streams, they write: ‘By the time cultural achievements become sufficiently established in public consciousness as to be taught in school, the turmoil of their evolution has been forgotten. The confluences of every culture are concealed, and homogenizing foundational myths are installed in their place.’

We take the notion of culture as confluence here as a starting point for our shared interest as research group in cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, convivenza, conviviality, diversity: the phenomenon of having multiple attachments in a multiplying world, and of cities as spaces where local, national, European and global identity figurations are constantly played out.

More than half of the world population lives in cities today. Our cities are key sites of multi-national, multilingual and cultural co-habitation, marked by complex and shifting realities ‘of (re)attachment, multiple attachment, or attachment at a distance’, defined by Bruce Robbins as ‘actually existing cosmopolitanism(s)’. This interdisciplinary ARTES research group aims to provide a grounded understanding of ‘actually existing cosmopolitanisms’ by:

  1. Examining how cities function as nucleuses and nodal points for the development and exchange of discourses on cosmopolitanism;
  2. Examining how cities (and by extension the identity of their inhabitants) are changing as a consequence of these existing cosmopolitanisms;
  3. Examining how various actors position themselves and strategically adopt and transform official and semi-official cultural policy and identity discourses with their own figurations and practices of cosmopolitanism.
  4. Collaborating with partners (artists, writers, cultural institutions) outside the academy, through exhibitions, workshops, literary and arts festivals and within other sites and instances of cultural production.

The research group brings together work in cultural and literary studies, cultural and social geography, history, art history and anthropology. Our key focal points are: discourses and practices of cosmopolitanisms; cities; cultural and artistic imaginaries; cultural policy; urban cultural geographies.

Achievements 2014-2017

International workshops

  • November 2017 in Istanbul, in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute (NIT) and the Dutch consulate, entitled Mediterranean Cities: Urban Geopolitics, Urban Poetics. Two day-workshop, including speakers from the academic and the artistic field.

Public events in Amsterdam

  • Public launch of our research group on 6 October 2016, with writer Ilija Trojanow, UvA, Bushuis, VOC-zaal.

  • May 2016 and 2017: Amsterdam, City of Exile, two separate exhibitions in Castrum Peregrini (2016) and Ondertussen (2017) with and by undergraduate students, addressing histories and realities of exile and migration in and to the city of Amsterdam.

  • April 2017 and April 2018 – venue: SPUI25, collaboration with the Read My World festival Amsterdam. Presentations by and public interviews with the curators of both editions, the first dealing with the theme of ‘Black USA’, the second with literature and the arts in and from Turkey.

  • October 2017: Claudio Magris: Narrating Europe. Writing from the borderland (collaboration with De Balie and IIC).

  • Event with writer Francesca Melandri and filmdirector Sabrina Varani (Amsterda, 14/5/2018) in collaboration with Istituto Italiano di Cultura. Book presentation and screening (premiere) of Pagine Nascoste (2017). Ciclo “ Incontri letterari con scrittori contemporanei”.
  • Event with dr. Domenico Scarpa, author of Album Primo Levi (Amsterdam, 12/2/2018). In collaboration with Istituto Italiano di Cultura. Ciclo “ Incontri letterari con scrittori contemporanei”.

PhD courses

  • November 2017: Winter School Cities, Borders and Identities; Towards an interdisciplinary approach (collaboration with Huizinga Institute & KNIR).

Academic guest lectures

  • October 2017: Paolo Girardelli (Bogazici University, Istanbul).

Aims 2018-2021

  • a follow-up on the PhD Winter School (see above), either in Saint Petersburg, Istanbul or Amsterdam.
  • A seminar/symposium on Euro-Turkish imaginaries (orientalisms and occidentalisms), probably in early 2020.

Current projects

Europe’s borders: imaginaries and practices. Several of our activities take place under this umbrella project, including Claske Vos’ research about cultural NGOs in the Balkans (Zagreb, Belgrade, Skopje); Lora Sariaslan’s work about cross-border mobility of visual artists in between Turkey and Western-Europe; and a book project by Guido Snel, The Recognizable European: Spatial Metaphor and the Borders of Europe. Monography, to be completed in the course of 2019/2020.

Recent output

  • L. Bialasiewicz, "Die Geopolitik der Sichtbarkeit: Grenzen der Toleranz in der Europäischen Stadt," Special issue of Transit ‘Grenzen der Toleranz’ 49 (2016).

  • V. Mamadouh and L. Bialasiewicz, "Europe and its Others (Introduction and co-editor of Special Issue)", Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 107, no. 2 (2016):129-133.

  • L. Bialasiewicz and L. Wagner, "Extra-ordinary Tangier: Domesticating practices in a border zone," GeoHumanities 1, no. 1 (2015):131-156.

  • L. A. Bialasiewicz and L. Sariaslan, “Textures of urban fears: the affective geopolitics of the ‘oriental rug’” in Memory in Europe:(Mis)Representation of Otherness, eds. Ayhan Kaya and Chiara de Cesari (Routledge, 2019 (forthcoming)).

  • L. A. Bialasiewicz and J. M. A. H. Maessen, "Scaling Rights: The 'Turkey Deal' and the Divided Geographies of European Responsibility," Patterns of Prejudice 52, no. 2 (2018).

  • M. Van Hout, "The beach as microcosm of a cosmopolitan city: Imagining and experiencing urban encounters at Trieste’s Pedocin beach," Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (forthcoming, 2018).

  • M. Van Hout, "'Niet weer Triëst' (Trieste, non di nuovo)," Incontri. Rivista europea di studi italiani, 33, no. 1 (2018): pp.114–119.

  • L. Sariaslan, “The Art of Migration: Contemporary Visual Artists beyond the Boundaries of Turkey,” Artistic positions and representations of mobility and migration Vol. 4 (Graz: Universitätsbibliothek Graz, 2018 (forthcoming)).

  • G. Snel, "Andrić and the Bridge: Dispossessed Writers and the Novel as a Site of Enduring Homelessness," in Claiming the dispossession: The politics of Hi/storytelling in post-imperial Europe (Balkan Studies Library; Vol. 19), ed. V. Biti (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 116-127.

  • G. Snel, "'My dream can also become your burden': Semezdin Mehmedinović’s Poetics of Self-Determination," in The Novel and Europe: Imagining the Continent in post-1945 fiction (Palgrave Studies in Modern European Literature ), ed. A. Hammond (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 227-242.

  • Monica Jansen & Maria Bonaria Urban, "L’Italia «fredda, elegante e ferita» della serie 1992: memoria e nostalgia di un’utopia fallita," in Tempo di serie. La temporalità nella narrazione seriale, eds. Fabio Cleto e Francesca Pasquali (Milano: Unicopli), 185-202.

  • L. N. Pennings and M. B. Urban, "'Per me il mare è più "blau" che non azzurro o blu'. Un'intervista con Claudio Magris," Incontri: rivista europea di studi italiani 33, no. 1 (2018): 125-134.

  • C. Vos, "Debating the Reconciliatory use of Heritage. European Post-monumentalism Versus Serbian National-monumentalism," International Journal of Heritage Studies 21, no. 7 (2015): 716-733.