From Kantian Cosmopolitanism to Stalinist Kosmopolitizm: The Making of Kaliningrad

  • Olga Sezneva


This chapter contrasts the cultural memory of Königsberg, the city we associate with Immanuel Kant and Hannah Arendt, with its transformation to Soviet Kaliningrad. In the period right after World War II, during the Soviet annexation and repopulation, there developed what might be called ‘negative cosmopolitanism’, a set of political ideals and practices geared towards separation and disenfranchisement of the element construed as ‘foreign’. As populations become victims of ethnic cleansing, retributive violence, statelessness, stigmatization and political suspicion, a new public culture emerged. In it, the descendants of Kant were subjected to ethno-national cleansing, and those who came to replace them were incited to hunt down fabricated spies and purify their consciousness of any interest in foreign culture. One of the contributions of this chapter, therefore, is the uncovering of ways in which the authoritarian Soviet state hijacked the cosmopolitan ideal of the Enlightenment, interpreted it negatively and turned it into a state technology in the service of the expansionist politics of space. A detailed reading of everyday interactions in the post-war Kaliningrad in the paper is accompanied by a set of curated photographs from the era which show how Kaliningrad’s residents make their lives among the ruins of Königsberg.


Königsberg Kaliningrad Statelessness Ethnic cleansing Anti-cosmopolitanism Cold war Ruination Ruin and photograph Negative cosmopolitanism Second world war Hannah Arendt 



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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.European University at St. PetersburgSt. PetersburgRussia

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