Localopolis and cosmopolis: an Indian narrative

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The peripheral neologism of the ‘localopolis’ is presented in this paper as an opposing polarity to the dominant idea of the ‘cosmopolis’ that has long been central to the narrative of human community formation. But can a rough-hewn conceit of this sort possess any conceptual purchase at all in a sophisticated e-environment that bombards us with changing information from every quarter of the globe, second to second? World discourses today have been transformed by the virtual modes of communication we now so routinely deploy. India, in particular, offers an intriguing case study of a ‘non western’ cultural context in which geographical location and historical identity are being radically redefined. It happens that a huge segment of this disconcertingly plural country lives in about five or six hundred ‘small towns’ of the subcontinent abutting ‘village’ India. So far, these semi-urban dwellings have been more or less invisible, operating well beneath the radar of the big city lights of a Delhi or Mumbai. Yet, turning the searchlights on such mini-urban sites whose denizens are hooked into ‘world-culture’ without necessarily ever having travelled to a metropolis is imperative. This is because these locations could alter our vision of the future by offering us models of crosstalk that are not only multilingual and multi-ethnic —but also multi-ethical. For this reason, my description of these cities is partly shaped as a self-reflexive conversation among concerned Indian citizens about how such locations can force the gaze of the world towards an embodied, emotional ‘elsewhere’ – thus ironically challenging many of our cherished assumptions about centre-periphery relations.


India, Cosmopolis, Localopolis, virtual communication, information, multilingual and multi-ethnic crosstalk


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