Once discarded as a relic of Western Enlightenment, «cosmopolitanism» seems revamped by social scientists in the face of swelling mobility flows. The paper presents ethnographic evidence on contemporary lived forms of «migrant cosmopolitanism», arguing to what extent these might merge with its traditional hazy paradigm. This piece grounds on the multisite research I conducted between Italy and India with Punjabi diasporans in 2012-2014. Addressing two life stories of Indian youth in Europe, I consider the cosmopolitan habitus and imaginations expressed by a young man and woman of Punjabi origin (born to different families with regard to caste, class and faith), who are moving across the EU with equally sundry global prospects. Their words reveal that mobility does not exactly overlaps with cosmopolitanism, although verbalized and enacted as a desirable lifeway. According to my interlocutors, being cosmopolitan entails several values, behaviors and affections, which turn out to be culture, class and gender specific, contingent and ambivalent yet not necessarily related to movement. Debating insights from social anthropology and cultural studies, my results give voice to uneven diaspora cosmopolitan subjectivities, stretching the limits of a postcolonial critique of cosmopolitanism itself.
Keywords: Indian diaspora; Cosmopolitan subjectivities; Life stories; critical ethnography.