The Figure of The Migrant: A Forthcoming Book Event

Join us! This summer we will host a book event on Thomas Nail’s The Figure of The Migrant (Stanford University Press, 2015). Stanford University Press has all the relevant information as well as a few excerpts from the book. There are also two interviews about the book here and here that might be of interest. I encourage you all to pick up a copy of the book and participate with us in the comments section. The following have already agreed to post:

Robin Celikates (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Andrew Dilts (Loyola Marymount University, USA)

Todd May (Clemson University, USA)

Ladelle McWhorter (University of Richmond, USA)

Sandro Mezzadra (University of Bologna, Italy)

Adriana Novoa (University of South Florida, USA)

Daniella Trimboli (University of British Columbia, Canada/University of Melbourne, Australia)

The following is taken from the Introduction of The Figure of the Migrant.

The twenty-first century will be the century of the migrant. At the turn of the century, there were more regional and international migrants than ever before in recorded history. Today, there are over 1 billion migrants. Each decade, the percentage of migrants as a share of the total population continues to rise, and in the next twenty-five years, the rate of migration is predicted to be higher than during the last twenty-five years. It has become more necessary for people to migrate because of environmental, economic, and political instability. Climate change, in particular, may cause international migration to double over the next forty years. The percentage of total migrants who are non-status or undocumented is increasing, which poses a serious challenge to democracy and political representation.

Today, the figure of the migrant exposes an important truth: social expansion has always been predicated on the social expulsion of migrants. The twenty-first century will be the century of the migrant not only because of the record number of migrants today but also because this is the century in which all the previous forms of social expulsion and migratory resistance have reemerged and become more active than ever before. This contemporary situation allows us to render apparent what had previously been obscured: that the figure of the migrant has always been the true motive force of social history. Only now are we in a position to recognize this.

The argument of this book is developed in four parts. Part 1 defines and lays out the logical structure of social motion. Part 2 argues that the migrant is defined not only by movement in general but by several specific historical conditions and techniques of social expulsion. Part 3 shows how several major migrant figures propose an alternative to this logic, and Part 4 shows how the concepts developed in Parts 2 and 3 help us to better understand the complex dynamics of contemporary migration in US-Mexico politics.

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One more plug for Allen C. Shelton’s Where the North Sea Meets Alabama

Hey, San Francisco Bay Area AUFS-ites, perhaps you’ve read my previous plugs for Allen C. Shelton’s book Where the North Sea Touches Alabama, and you thought to yourself, “My goodness, this Allen C. Shelton character sounds interesting. I’d sure love to meet him.” Well, August 18th will be your lucky day! He will be at Diesel Bookstore in Oakland, discussing said book — taking questions, telling stories, and maybe hints into his newest work — at 7 pm. Do come out. Yours truly will be there, and hopefully others. Adam K. will be there in spirit, fresh from his reading of the book (that makes it bona fide, right?).

Haven’t read it and are unsure if you’ll get a chance to do so before then? There’s always the wonderful book trailer for it. (I’ve never before, and don’t imagine I ever will again, be able to say that without soul-deadening sarcasm.)

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Michael Grimshaw: The Counter-Narratives of Radical Theology and Popular Music

Counter NarrativesSeveral of us at are involved in Mike Grimshaw’s new edited volume, The Counter-Narratives of Radical Theology and Popular Music: Songs of Fear and Trembling, from Palgrave Macmillan’s Radical Theologies series.  Clayton Crockett has an essay on Joy Division; Joshua Ramey’s chapter is titled “Protocols of Surrender: Stammering across the Gothic Lines”; Daniel Barber’s is titled “Stop, Think, Stop”; and my contribution is an essay on the Pet Shop Boys, whose hit, “It’s a sin,” always struck me as a prayer.

I invited Mike to send me something to promote the book (the table of contents follows, below), so he sent a selection from his opening essay.  The book can be found on the publisher’s webpage here and on  Amazon here.


From…Sonic bibles and the closing of the canon:

The sounds of secular, mundane transcendence?

Mike Grimshaw

 To write our own bibles is part of being modern: to write out of doubt, angst, existential yearning and hope, to attempt to make present that which we perceive and experience as absent, to deal with those issues of self and time and place and identity, to give voice to the questions and troubles of existence… Read the rest of this entry »

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Gil Anidjar’s Blood: Book Event and Giveaway

Later this Summer, we will be hosting the next AUFS book event on Gil Anidjar’s Blood: A Critique of Christianity. We have been looking forward to this book and have put together an exciting group of contributors, most of whom are not regular AUFS authors.

Columbia University Press has generously offered us a copy to give away to a reader. To enter, leave a comment below and post a link to this page on Facebook and/or Twitter. The winner will be contacted via the email address provided when commenting on this page. Giveaway will close tomorrow night, Tuesday May 5th.  Update: Scott has won the giveaway. Thanks everyone for participating!

Meanwhile, check out this roundtable discussion on the book:

A theory on e-book pricing

As far as I understand it, the price of the physical book is a trivial portion of the cost to produce a book. The difference in price between hardcover and paperback may have misled us in this regard, but what you’re paying for with a hardcover is traditionally earlier access to the book, with greater durability as a kind of bonus. Though I do not know the details, it seems obvious that the price differential between an e-book and a physical book is far greater than the price of the physical artifact — indeed, it’s almost certainly much greater than the cost of the physical artifact plus storage and shipping costs.

What accounts for the price differential, then? Part of the problem is surely that almost no one would buy e-books if they were the same price as a paperback. Yet I propose that the real root cause is Amazon, which has already aggressively pushed down physical book prices and irrevocably damaged the profitability of traditional publishers and bookstores. They’ve already racheted down what people are willing to pay for books, and e-books give them a pretext to cut the price even further.

Hence my theory: e-books, at their current price levels, are loss-leaders meant to ensure Amazon’s long-term control over publishing. My worry, though, is not so much that they’ll raise prices once they get monopoly power, but rather that they simply won’t do the stuff that traditional publishers have done — that they’re ushering in a world of universal self-publishing, with no infrastructure for providing editing and other services to authors who are not able to pay for such services out of pocket.

Annotated List of Notable Books I Read This Year (in no particular order)

  • Speedboat & Pitch Dark, Renata Adler

2013 was a good year for Adler. Sure, it took a couple of years and NYRB re-publications, but her two wonderful novels, Speedboat and Pitch Dark are finally being given the due they deserve. Adler’s prose is precision sharp, psychologically dense (& as a result quite real), and nothing really feels particularly dated in either book. Pitch Dark is arguably a bit better, but the bursts of Speedboat are more explosive & make it a better starting point.

  • Seiobo There Below, László Krasznahorkai

Krasznahorkai’s most recent book is, let’s be blunt, his greatest so far. And, in truth, it’s probably the greatest thing published in English this year. You think I’m exaggerating, but I am not. The man is a wizard, and he pulls off audacious, seemingly pretentious maneuvers like twenty-page sentences, such that you quickly lose sight of the audacity and find yourself instead wherever he damn well wants you. Beauty and horror never so much collide or come at odds in Krasznahorkai’s world, nor are they infused or resolved dialectically. They somehow interpenetrate the other in unbalanced, sometimes grotesque ways. Seiobo There Below repeatedly rehearses precisely how this looks, and I could not look away.

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A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature: Ecologies of Thought Released

I am really excited to announce that my first book has just been published in the Radical Theologies series at Palgrave Macmillian. It’s too expensive for now, though a paperback should come out in a year and I hope some of you will request your library order it. I have written a short, personal preview at the invitation of Political Theology. Over at Environmental Critique Christine Skolnik has written a very kind review of the book.

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