‘Ex and the City’: on cosmopolitanism, community and the ‘curriculum of refuge’

  • Molly Quinn Teachers College, Columbia University
Keywords: cosmopolitanism, curriculum theory, citizenship, hospitality, interculturality


This paper looks at curriculum in a contemporary context marked by an alarming want of hospitality. It does so by engaging inquiry into the renewed interest in the cosmopolitan tradition in education, as directed at questions concerning: the burden of history, the reality of inequity, the experience of exile, and the need for forgiveness. Autobiographically and existentially inspired, it grounds itself in the views and vagrancies of city life—symbolically, in the imaginary as well, highlighting the curricular import of intercultural encounter and radical openness to the other, in advancing and inventing difference and cultivating solidarity ‘differently’. Beginning with a general framework and rationale for such explorations of cosmopolitanism—its understandings of culture, identity, society and citizenship, largely as built upon the poststructuralist readings of Jacques Derrida, among others, this work further takes up of this discourse through related resonant scholarship in education to consider conceptions of curriculum built upon cosmopolitan insights. Borrowing from Derrida’s plea for the ‘city of refuge’ and ‘cities of refuge’, it seeks to consider a structure, or dwelling place, for entertaining the possibilities visited upon us in conceptualizing the ‘curriculum of refuge’ for children via education in a cosmopolitan way.