Mapping cosmopolis: moral topographies of the medieval city

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    20 Citations (Scopus)


    Cosmopolis is a concept that has a long history in many cultures around the globe. It is a mirroring of the 'social' and 'natural' worlds, such that in one is seen the order and the structures of the other -- a mutual 'mapping'. In this paper I examine how the presence of cosmopolis -- a Christianised cosmopolis of the European Middle Ages -- was made evident in the representation and formation of cities at that time. I reveal a dualism between the social and spatial ordering of both city and cosmos which defined and reinforced social and spatial boundaries in urban landscapes, evident for example in the 11th and 12th centuries. Recently, Toulmin (1992) has taken the idea of cosmopolis to argue that it has been a persistent presence in Western - Enlightenment science, philosophy, and religion -- a 'hidden agenda of modernity'. I contend that, as an idea, cosmopolis has a much earlier circulation in European thinking, not least in the Middle Ages. Locating cosmopolis in the medieval and the modern periods then begs a question of what is it that really makes the two distinct and separate? All too often human geographers have emphasised discontinuities between the 'medieval' and 'modern' age, locating the 'rise of modernity' some time in the Enlightenment period. However, what 'mapping' cosmopolis reveals are continuities, binding time and space together, which when looked at begin to help query the modernity concept itself.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)681-698
    Number of pages18
    JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
    • Geography, Planning and Development


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