This introductory essay sets the theoretical frame for the special issue Cosmopolitanisms of «Meridiana. Rivista di storia e scienze sociali». Is cosmopolitanism – the will to trespass borders – a worldwide attitude of humans irrespective of local context or should we always identify the specific indigenous conditions of its existence? While Kosmos (the idea of the world as a Whole) and Politèia (the notion of Humans living in Society) are possibly universal concepts, we do not know whether, to what extent, and in which particular contexts they overlap to the point that men and women can project their lives on the backdrop of a truly universal World, or the local forces of cultural gravity push them towards smaller (non-cosmopolitan) notions of their selves. Besides the necessary analytical perspectives of history and political science, the anthropological project and mostly its insistence on ethnographic theorization are invaluable tools to fulfil this research assignment, namely investigating the empirical conditions according to which humans do or do not pursue a cosmopolitan way of living, feeling, acting, and interacting.
Keywords: Cosmopolitanism; Ethnography; Universalism; Human identity.