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Ubuntu: Toward an Emancipatory Cosmopolitanism?

International Political Sociology

Published online on


This paper seeks to contribute to the growing body of critical scholarship that extends cosmopolitanism beyond its Kantian conceptions in International Relations (IR). It examines the promise of the ubuntu philosophy which is popular in South Africa and asks whether it can lead to what Pieterse (Development and Change, 37, 2006, 1247) calls “emancipatory cosmopolitanism.” Using Wiredu's (1996) “sympathetic impartiality,” the paper explores insights from this indigenous ubuntu philosophy to critique dominant conceptions of cosmopolitan thought in IR.