Memory Unbound: Human Rights and the Question of Cosmopolitan Memory


  • Natan Sznaider

There is a new cosmopolitanism in the air. The old concept has not simply been rediscovered but reinvented for the global age. Many writers now maintain that cosmopolitanism is no longer a dream, but rather the substance of social reality -- and that it is increasingly the nation state and our particular identities that are figments of our imagination, clung to by our memories. The purpose of this paper is to concretize this argument and demonstrate the distinctive forms that collective memories take in the age of globalization. It studies the transition from national to cosmopolitan memory cultures. Cosmopolitanism refers to a process of internal globalization through which global concerns become part of local experiences of an increasing number of people. Global media representations, among others, create new cosmopolitan memories, providing new epistemological vantage points and emerging moral-political interdependencies. As such, memories of the Holocaust contribute to the creation of a common European cultural memory based on the abstract notion of Human Rights.


Professor Sznaider earned dual B.A. degrees in Sociology and Psychology (1979) and an M.A. in Sociology (1983) from Tel-Aviv University, after which he completed both his M.Phil (Sociology/Philosophy, 1987) and Ph.D (Sociology, 1992) degrees at Columbia University in New York. Professor Sznaider has taught at Hebrew University, Columbia University, the University of Munich, and the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo.

Professor Sznaider has published a diverse array of books, essays, conference papers and monographs, and has edited widely in academic texts and journals in the fields of sociology, psychology, philosophy and human rights. He currently serves as Associate Professor, Head of the Undergraduate Division, and Head of the Teaching Committee at the School of Behavioral Sciences, Tel-Aviv University.