Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Su, John

Second Advisor

Melamed, Jodi

Third Advisor

Hathaway, Heather


Since the 1980s, literary critics have examined contemporary cosmopolitanism’s relationship with globalization from postcolonial perspectives. An intriguing question in this area is: how do postcolonial authors justify their cosmopolitan critiques of globalization while relying on the economic structures that sustain the publishing industry? This dissertation attempts to answer the question by studying literary cosmopolitanisms of Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, and Arundhati Roy. It argues that by developing forms of literary cosmopolitanisms through fiction, some postcolonial writers create alternatives to neoliberal globalization and a reactionary nationalism from within those systems. The primary methods employed in this study include close-reading and critical-research-qualitative analysis. Specifically, the dissertation contends that Salman Rushdie has developed a critical cosmopolitanism of the urban migrant that simultaneously challenges the inhibiting nature of fundamentalist nationalism and homogenizing globalization. Not satisfied with Rushdie’s individualistic cosmopolitanism, Amitav Ghosh recuperates a family-based South Asian cosmopolitanism that evolved during the British colonialism in Asia and provided an alternative to Western cosmopolitanism through the dynamism of the littoral. Celebrating this familial-littoral cosmopolitanism, Ghosh envisions the possibility of a world-community, capable of defying rigid nationalism as well as neoliberal capitalism on the strength of family-like relationships among migrants. Also diverging from Rushdie, Arundhati Roy evolves a small cosmopolitanism that appeals to the global through the local. Roy reaches out to global readers with narratives of local struggles to inspire them to cultivate a cosmopolitan empathy towards those others who inhabit socioculturally backward parts of the World. This dissertation identifies forms of postcolonial literary cosmopolitanisms that enable Rushdie, Roy, and Ghosh to imagine a cosmopolitan world-community, rooted in mutual respect and acceptance of difference. It opens avenues for further research in literary studies that examine postcolonial literature’s creative potential to promote grounded cosmopolitanism as a powerful antidote to economic globalization in the twenty-first century.