The Divergent Cosmopolitanisms of Hannah Arendt

  • Liz Sutherland


Several recent attempts to defend cosmopolitanism in international political theory have relied on the work of Hannah Arendt. Patrick Hayden argues that ‘cosmopolitan realism’ can be applied to Arendt’s position on responsibility for humanity. Robert Fine extracts a ‘worldly cosmopolitanism’ from Arendt’s insistence that we reconstruct the idea of humanity in the face of its eradication. Seyla Benhabib argues for a shift toward cosmopolitan norms, based on her interpretation of Arendt’s claim that an attempt to eradicate a group constitutes an offence against ‘the human status.’ Each of these theorists navigates the tension between Arendt’s call for a ‘new law on earth’ and her insistence on the bounded polity as the space for political action. I examine these attempts to extrapolate a cosmopolitan theory from Arendt’s writings, and I evaluate the possibilities they hold for an Arendtian cosmopolitan approach to crime against humanity.


Human rights Crimes against humanity Cosmopolitanism Genocide Humanity 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liz Sutherland
    • 1
  1. 1.TorontoCanada

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