A little while ago, Anna Iltnere of the Sea Library blog asked a number of cultural operators, including myself, what the word “cosmopolitan” meant to us. This was for The Sultan’s Seal, an online literary journal started by writer Youssef Rakha (author of THE CROCODILES and THE BOOK OF THE SULTAN'S SEAL).

Below is my answer:

A person can be described as cosmopolitan, and so can a place. A cosmopolitan person is likely a polyglot with an excellent command of multiple languages. This allows him or her to become equally immersed in an array of cultures by way of literature, music, art, food, cinema, fashion and all manner of a people’s being.

A cosmopolitan place on the other hand is a location that allows for the convergence of cultures on an equal footing, without a single culture imposing itself as the hegemonic umbrella for it all.

You should absolutely check out The Sultan’s Seal link though to see what the other authors said, all of who are far smarter and far more eloquent than myself.