This lecture takes the emergence of ICORN, the International Cities of Refuge Network as its starting point. The intention is to explain the ideas that formed it, how it came into being and its basic logics of function. Among the core issues to be raised are the questions how cities can become safe havens for persecuted writers/artists, even though they operate within the rules and regimes of the nation state. How are win/win situations created between the host cities and the guest writers, and what are the future challenges and potentials for a network like ICORN on the future global arena?
This lecture was given within the framework of the 2011 School of Critical Theory organized by the Centre for the Humanities in Utrecht. The programme was titled ‘G-local Cosmopolitanism: The Social Responsibility of the Artists, the Academics, and the Media’, and offered trans-national and interdisciplinary approaches drawn from the humanities, social sciences, law, philosophy and international relations. Its focus on the development of cross-national European perspectives in these areas, allows for the innovative use of key notions of cosmopolitanism across different national, cultural and disciplinary traditions. The school consisted of three clusters, which focused on Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility of the Artists, Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility of the Academics, and Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility of the Media.