This article introduces this special issue on new ethnoscapes of a cosmopolitan Malaysia. It investigates questions of belonging and analyses the conditions that make possible cosmopolitan solidarity between citizens and sub- and non-citizens in a globalized world. I posit several critical frameworks on cosmopolitanism, citizenship and the public sphere to theorize the relationship between citizens and non-citizens in Malaysia: 'zones of sovereignty', the refugee as homo sacer and 'acts of citizenship' that constitute rights and subjecthood for non-citizens. In an attempt to outline a more detailed ethnography of everyday ways of belonging, I touch briefly on Conradson's 'spaces of care'. Lastly, I focus on the public sphere, which can be a barometer for gauging whether cosmopolitan solidarity and transnational crossings can occur.