For this session, we will focus on “The Figure of the Migrant” by Thomas Nail, the book introduces us into political theory of an old phenomenon. The last decade alone has marked the highest number of migrations in recorded history. Constrained by environmental, economic, and political instability, scores of people are on the move. But other sorts of changes—from global tourism to undocumented labor—have led to the fact that to some extent, we are all becoming migrants. The migrant has become the political figure of our time.
Historically, there have been numerous figures of the migrant. For example, the nomad, the barbarian, the vagabond, and the proletariat are four major kinds of migratory figures. The figure of the migrant is not a class or identity; it is a vector (a position in motion). Migrants are the true movers of history and political transformation, but this does not mean their movements are immune from cooptation by states, capital, or other forms of expulsion. In fact, it is their captured motion that is the very condition of social power in the first place (slavery, serfdom, waged labor, and so on). –On Destroying What Destroys You: An Interview with Thomas Nail by Jose Rosales.
If we take the figure of the migrant as a primary or constitutive figure of politics, it requires more than a mere accommodation of this figure into the existing frameworks of liberalism, Marxism, multiculturalism, and so on. It requires a whole new theoretical starting point that does not begin with stasis and the state, but with the more primary social movements that constitute the state, as well as the social alternatives that arise from those same movements.
We have a chance to reflect upon Deleuzian Nomadology, Ethical and political concepts developed by Simon Critchley in “Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance” and the Nomadic Theory of feminist philosopher Rosi Braidotti.
Thomas Nail is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Denver. His research is in European philosophy, Political philosophy, and Environmental philosophy. He works on recent European thought to contemporary political events like Zapatismo, migrant activism, the Occupy movement, and ecological resistance. His Latestest works are Theory of the Border and Returning to Revolution: Deleuze, Guattari and Zapatismo.
- The Figure of the Migrant by Thomas Nail
Part I and II (Political Theory of Migrant + Kinopolitics, until page 59)
Next meeting: April 21st Friday, 19:00 – 21:00
Address: Ex-club (Merimiehenkatu 36, 00150 Helsinki, Finland)
If you would like to join, just come in, (free and open to all)
The Reading Group always meets on the 3rd Friday of every month.
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We are open to collaboration and joint projects. The reading conversations are usually carried on collectively. The topic of each month’s reading varies based on the collective interest. We are reading books, essays and materials in topics regarding contemporary art studies, politics, philosophy, criticism, etc.