Kant’s Subaltern Period: The Birth of Cosmopolitanism from the Spirit of Occupation



With a focus on Kant’s early writings, Etkind situates Kant’s political thought on cosmopolitanism within his career as a lecturer and author in other subjects, including his Universal History and Ethnography of the North. Exploring Kant’s life, ideas and publications during the Seven Years’ War and the Russian occupation of Königsberg, Etkind revises Kant’s position vis-à-vis the European imperial hegemony. In the period when Königsberg changed hands between Prussia and Russia, he argues, Kant was a colonial subject. This unique subaltern experience helped him to formulate his ethical and political philosophy, including his ideas of cosmopolitanism. A fresh reading of a contemporaneous source, the memoirs of the Russian officer Andrei Bolotov who was stationed in Königsberg, helps to flesh out multiple facets in the mutual perception between Russian invaders and Prussian natives in the early 1760s.


Immanuel Kant Andrei Bolotov Cultural history of Königsberg Internal colonization Subaltern Hegemonic Postcolonial history 



  1. Arendt, Hannah, Kant’s Political Philosophy, ed. Ronald Beiner (Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  2. Benjamin, Walter, Theses on the Philosophy of History, in his Illuminations (New York: Harcourt and Brace, 1968), 253–265.Google Scholar
  3. Bolotov, Andrei, Zhizn’ i prikliucheniia Andreia Bolotova, opisannye samim im dlia svoikh potomkov [The life and adventures of Andrei Bolotov, as described by himself for his descendants], ed. Arsenii Gulyga (Moscow: Sovremennik, 1986).Google Scholar
  4. Kant, Immanuel, Theoretical Philosophy, ed. David Walford (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  5. Kant, Immanuel, Perpetual Peace. Essays on Kant’s Cosmopolitan Ideas, eds. by James Bohman and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  6. Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Judgment, transl. G. H. Bernard (New York: Cosimo 2007), 155–161.Google Scholar
  7. Kant, Immanuel, On the Different Races of Human Beings, in Kant, Anthropology, History, and Education, eds. Günter Zöller and Robert B. Louden (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).Google Scholar
  8. Schlözer, August, Allgemeine nordische Geschichte, 2 vols. (Halle 1772).Google Scholar


  1. Articles and Book Chapters Google Scholar
  2. Crouzet, François, The Second Hundred Years War: Some Reflections, French History, 10 (1996), 432–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Guyer, Paul, Freedom as the Foundation of Morality: Kant’s Early Efforts, In Kant’s Observations and Rematks. A Critical Guide, Eds. Susan Meld Shell and Richard Velkley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 77–99.Google Scholar
  4. Habermas, Jürgen, Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace, with the Benefit of Two Hundred Years’ Hindsight, in Perpetual Peace. Essays on Kant’s Cosmopolitan Ideas, Eds. James Bohman and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, 113–154.Google Scholar
  5. Kretinin, Gennady, ‘O vozvraschenii prusskoj provintsii Fridrikhu II v 1862 godu’ [On the return of the Prussian province to Frederick II in 1862], in Voprosy istorii, 6 (2002), 139–143.Google Scholar
  6. La Vopa, Anthony J., Herder’s Publikum: Language, Print, and Sociability in Eighteenth-Century Germany, in Eighteenth-Century Studies, 29: 1 (1995), 5–24.Google Scholar
  7. Liechtenhan, Francine-Dominique, Königsberg, capitale de la Nouvelle Russie? La Prusse orientale sous l’occupation russe (1758–1762), in Histoire, Economie et Societe, 2 (2013), 75–95.Google Scholar
  8. Nussbaum, Martha, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, in Perpetual Peace. Essays on Kant’s Cosmopolitan Ideas, eds. James Bohman and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, 25–58.Google Scholar
  9. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, Can the Subaltern Speak?, in Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (eds.), Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory (Harlow: Pearson, 1994), 66–112.Google Scholar
  10. Sturm, Thomas, What Did Kant Mean by and Why Did He Adopt a Cosmopolitan Point of View in History?,


  1. Anisimov, Maksim, Semiletniaia voina i rossijskia diplomatiia v 1756–1763 gg. [The Seven Years War and Russian diplomacy, 1756–1763] (Moscow: ‘Pervoesentiabria’, 2014).Google Scholar
  2. Berlin, Isaiah, Three Critics of the Enlightenment (London: Pimlico, 2000).Google Scholar
  3. Butterfield, Herbert, Man on His Past: The Study of the History of Historical Scholarship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955).Google Scholar
  4. Cavallar, Georg, Kant’s Embedded Cosmopolitanism (Berlin: de Gruter, 2015).Google Scholar
  5. Delanty, Gerald, The Cosmopolitan Imagination. The Renewal of Critical Social Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).Google Scholar
  6. Flikschuh, Katrin and Lea Ypi, Kant and Colonialism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Global Political Theory, Eds. David Held and Pietro Maffettone (Cambridge: Polity, 2016).Google Scholar
  8. Goldstein, Jan, The Post-Revolutionary Self. Politics and Psyche in France, 1750–1850 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  9. Gulyga, Arsenii, Immanuel Kant. His Life and Thought, transl. Marijan Despalatovic (Boston: Birk, 1987).Google Scholar
  10. Held, David, Cosmopolitanism. Ideals and Realities (Cambridge: Polity, 2010).Google Scholar
  11. Khodarkovsky, Michael, Russia’s Steppe Frontier. The Making of a Colonial Empire, 1500–1800 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  12. Kleingeld, Pauline, Kant and Cosmopolitanism. The Philosophical Ideas of World Citizenship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2012).Google Scholar
  13. Koselleck, Reinhart, Futures Past. On the Semantics of Historical Time, transl. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  14. Kostiushev, Yuri and Gennady Kretinin, Petrovskoe nachalo: Kenigsbergskii universitet i rossiiskoe prosveshchenie v XVIII veke (Kaliningrad: Iantarnyi skaz, 1999).Google Scholar
  15. Kruglov, Aleksey, Filosofiia Kanta v Rossii [Kant’s philosophy in Russia] (Moscow: Kanon, 2009).Google Scholar
  16. Kuehn, Manfred, Kant: A Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Louden, Robert B., Kant’s Human Being. Essays on His Theory of Human Nature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).Google Scholar
  18. Maiofis, Maria, Vozzvanie k Evrope. Literaturnoe obshchestvo Arzamas i rossiiskii modernizatsionnyi proekt 1815–1818 godov [Appeal to Europe. The literary association Arzamas and the project of Russian modernization in the years 1815 – 1818] (Moscow: NLO, 2008).Google Scholar
  19. Mannheim, Karl, Ideology and Utopia (London: Harvest 1955).Google Scholar
  20. Meinecke, Friedrich, Cosmopolitanism and the National State (1908), transl. Robert B. Kimber (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970) Neiman, Susan, Moral Clarity (Princeton: Prinxwron University Press, 2009).Google Scholar
  21. Schmitt, Carl, The Nomos of the Earth: In the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum, transl. G.L. Ulmen (New York: Telos, 2003).Google Scholar
  22. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorti, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  23. Williams, Howard (Ed.), Essays on Kant’s Political Philosophy (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  24. Wolff, Larry, Inventing Eastern Europe. The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  25. Young-Bruehl, Elisabeth, Hannah Arendt. For Love of the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982).Google Scholar
  26. Zammito, John H., Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Anthropology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European University InstituteFlorenceItaly

Personalised recommendations