Evening talk

Monday 5 March 2018


If you believe you are a citizen of the world you are a citizen of nowhere

Intelligence Squared debate

When Theresa May uttered these words at the Tory party conference in 2016, there was uproar. For many, believing you are a citizen of the world is a badge of honour, not shame. The cosmopolitan impulse, they believe, isn’t about loyalty to any single community. On the contrary, you can be a citizen of your street, your city, your country and the entire globe.

But for a different group of people, May’s words resonated deeply. These people often feel sneered at as nationalists or worse, as bigots, by the elites who do not understand their profound intuition that the nation state is the natural expression of group identity.

To unpack the debate, Pi is partnering with Intelligence Squared to bring you Simon Schama, one of Britain’s most celebrated historians, who embodies the cosmopolitan spirit and Elif Shafak, the Turkish novelist and commentator, who calls herself a ‘world citizen and a global soul’.

Joining them will be David Goodhart – who distinguishes ‘somewheres’, who feel strong local and national attachments, from ‘anywheres’, global villagers who value autonomy and mobility – and David Landsman, who is concerned about the growing intellectualisation of work which he views as widening the gap between the professional classes and everyone else.

David Goodhart

Founding editor of Prospect magazine who is currently head of the Demography, Immigration and Integration Unit at the think tank Policy Exchange.

David Landsman

Former diplomat who started his FCO career in Greece and ended it there as Ambassador. He is currently Europe head of the Indian-headquartered Tata group.

Simon Schama

University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University in New York. His publications include Patriots and Liberators, The Embarrassment of Riches, Citizens, Landscape and Memory, and Rembrandt’s Eyes. His latest book is Belonging, the second volume of his history of the Jews.

Elif Shafak

Award-winning novelist and political commentator, who is the most widely read female writer in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books

“If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what citizenship means.”