The article intends to adapt the theoretical framework of cosmopolitanism to subjects whose migration towards the global North is hampered by obstacles to mobility, and to a context where differences do not represent resources but reasons for conflicts. Based on an ethnographic research conducted in northern Ethiopia, at the border with Eritrea, the paper analyses the biographical and migratory trajectory of a young Eritrean refugee, and examines his cosmopolitan aspirations by putting them in relation with his desires for elsewhere and with the ambivalent historical relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea. His condition of spatial im/ mobility and the consequences of the recent Ethiopian-Eritrean war on his intimate spheres, depict a scenario where the cosmopolitan practices, values, and ideas are both aspirated and precluded. By combining the study of the cosmopolitan «from below» with a perspective focused on the historical construction of otherness, on social boundaries, and on the current unequal border regimes, the paper aims to reflect on the limits of the concept of cosmopolitanism and on its analytical relevance.
Keywords: Cosmopolitan aspirations; Social boundary; Border regimes; Horn of Africa.