More than a decade into the twenty-first century, globalization remains at thefore of the world’s cultural imaginary. While the term evokes different experiences for differently situated communities, it nonetheless describes the modern structures that bind people, however unevenly, across boundaries of nationality, race, ethnicity, region, and class. For scholars of the Victorian era, the global zeitgeist has spurred interest in transnational approaches as well as concerns over methodological provincialism. Does the category ‘Victorian’ imply that scholars of ‘the Victorian world’ approach that topic in the grips of nation-centric or even anglocentric mindsets? Does the focus on the nineteenth century obscure the longue durée of capitalism’s global advance along with the imperial and neo-imperial practices that have accompanied it? Many scholars mindful of such questions have turned to cosmopolitanism, defined in a recent special issue as ‘an ethos that attempts to encompass all humanity while remaining attentive to the pitfalls of humanism’ (Agathocleous and Rudy 2010: 390). Yet, insofar as cosmopolitanism’s focal points privilege ethos at the expense of materiality, the concept risks ignoring the forms of power that, for centuries, have entrenched inequality across the globe.