In times of pandemic, when traffic through cities becomes limited, two productions of streaming platforms give materiality to an ethnographic experience: the feeling of being in the world that comes from meeting difference and is attested by the marginal places of cities.
The places despised by the financial capitals and their gentrification, which mix dubious aesthetics, are the places which abound with life and new solidarities.
In the Netflix film “Bird City”, two Nigerian brothers try to solve their personal and family problems amid temporary jobs, migrant and local communities and makeshift housing in the city of São Paulo.
In Amazon Prime’s “Manhãs de Setembro” miniseries, a black, transsexual woman makes deliveries via apps and finds out that she is the father of a boy who lives with his mother in a car and sells this she can at traffic lights. In addition to counting on the help of her migrant neighbor and her boyfriend from the northeastern region of Brazil.
Both products develop their stories from protagonists from the margin. And what can these two productions teach us about cosmopolitanism?
First of all, it is important to understand the term. Cosmopolitanism means cultivating the will of local and national populations to be empathetic towards foreigners, especially those in vulnerable situations, regardless of their identity group or social distinction.
In this case, for the American philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum, the foreigner, migrant or refugee, is welcome, not as a foreigner, but as a cosmopolitan professor teaching to be a citizen of the world, who remakes himself in cosmopolitan citizen.
So, in the age of global connectivity, cosmopolitan ethics should become a moral necessity. With the globalized media, businesses and governments can no longer keep atrocities a secret, ignorance is no longer an alibi.
Migration and common cosmopolitanism
From the rise of transnational migration and the so-called refugee crisis of 2015, the French anthropologist Michel Agier developed the idea of common cosmopolitanism to reflect on the global experience of the daily encounter with the other, or those who live “border situations”. ”.
The author maintains that a condition is slowly formed in the world from the meeting of those called “marginal lives”. For Agier, the world is globalized and hybrid, and in him, the experience of the unknown and the uncertain is shared on a daily basis, and this condition arises at the border.
The Global Trends report, published in 2021 by UNHCR, attests that a total of 82.4 million people have been displaced by wars and conflicts. In Brazil, the official number of refugees is 57,099 people according to the latest “Refuge in Numbers” report.
This reality leads to a greater diversity of people sharing experiences between locals and foreigners. From the workplace to city corners, markets, neighborhoods, schools, public transport.
The point is that more and more authors are defending the idea of a cosmopolitanism of everyday life, of the ordinary, which includes those whose daily experiences lie at the frontier, both geographically and culturally, at North as in the global South.
Diversity is no longer the abstraction of a discourse that invites a unique experience, but the daily life of Latin American cities. Not only from its megalopolises, such as São Paulo, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, but also from large and medium-sized cities such as Recife, Porto Alegre, Brasilia, to name only the Brazilians.
These are the city centers, with their tangle of shops, offices, houses, street vendors and all kinds of improvisations. This expands the uses of sidewalks, abandoned buildings, squares, mixing accents, languages, food and products, entangling the flow of people with the goods, showing a system of hacks that weave new rules outside the system. . These are devices that support people and their precarious lives, increasingly dependent on the work of delivery platforms and awkward entrepreneurship.
Thus, the contemporary experience unfolds from a cosmopolitanism of borders, marginal, peripheral and interspersed with multiple negotiations of different identity affiliations, ethnic and racial origin, nationality, language, gender, class, but with a common panorama: the daily struggle against the precariousness of the marginalized.
The thought of the Brazilian geographer Milton Santos and the notion of “banal space, space for all” reappear as a fundamental idea, since the space of the banal and striking event for its local actors has what Santos calls “centripetal forces”. ”, Causing aggregation and cohesion, are also the places where we write our daily stories of communion.
For Milton Santos, reinvention involves the poor who really act and give a new meaning to the space of the city, creating new meanings between the global and the local, through the hybridization of signs. Here I might point out Praça da República, in São Paulo, as one of those places. Or the neighborhood of Avenida Conde da Boa Vista, in Recife, or the Feria de la Salada on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
cosmopolitanism from below
Returning to the two productions which open the text, the notion of cosmopolitanism takes on different interpretations. He does not disconnect from his Greek roots, the Stoics, which designate Ulysses, the traveling hero interested in humanity. Nor its link with the consumption habits of a globalized elite. But, in the 21st century, he also began to integrate the notion of a cosmopolitanism from below, carried by the marginalized of elitist society.
Let’s celebrate the cosmopolitan of the margins. On the intersectionality of the peripheries-world. From the daily mix of transnational flows. As ethos of global citizenship, cosmopolitanism can be described as an intellectual attempt to understand the common denominator – humanity – dispersed in a world of chaos and cultural diversity. The question then remains: do these subjects share a cosmopolitan consciousness?