3/11 | Anoush Terjanian

Teary Cosmopolitanism at the Origins of Political Economy

This draft essay notices the ways in which the eighteenth-century’s international best-seller, the Histoire des deux Indes — and specifically its authorial voice — mobilised a language of sentiment to make a case for a certain kind of cosmopolitanism. Bringing to the fore the key, but often overlooked, context of circulating theories of political economy with which the authors of the Histoire conversed through the work’s many editions, this paper re-examines the text’s political strategies. While appeals to sentiment in the work have been characterised as painful moments of purple prose (JGA Pocock, 2005), or objectifying imperial subjects (Lynn Festa, 2010), a close reading of these, in the light of political economic discourse and debates, suggests an additional interpretation which reads the projection of emotions from the authorial voice as part of a political strategy to transmit what has been called “cosmopolitan intent” (James Tully, 2002).

Anoush Terjanian is a tenured associate professor of history at East Carolina University. Her research and teaching have focused on eighteenth-century France — birthplace of political and economic theories under renewed critical evaluation, namely modern democracy and capitalism. Professor Terjanian is spending this election year closer to praxis, as the director of a new Social Science Research Council program investigating current ‘anxieties of democracy’. Her first book, Commerce and Its Discontents in Eighteenth-Century French Political Thought, was published by Cambridge University Press.