This book offers a much-needed new 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.
As this book argues, every era since Marx's death has reinvented him to fit its needs. There is not one Marx forever and for all time. There are a thousand Marxes. As Thomas Nail contends, one of the most significant contributions of Marx's work is that it treats theory itself as a historical practice. Reading Marx is not just an interpretative activity, but a creative one. As our historical conditions change, so do the kinds of questions we pose and the kinds of answers we find in Marx's writing.
More than at any other time in human history, we live in an age defined by movement and mobility; yet, we lack a unifying theory which takes this seriously as a starting point for philosophy. The history of philosophy has systematically explained movement as derived from something else that does not move: space, eternity, force, and time.
We need a new philosophy of the earth. Geological time used to refer to slow and gradual processes, but today we are watching land sink into the sea and forests transform into deserts. We can even see the creation of new geological strata made of plastic, chicken bones, and other waste that could remain in the fossil record for millennia or longer. Crafting a philosophy of geology that rewrites natural and human history from the broader perspective of movement, Thomas Nail provides a new materialist, kinetic ethics of the earth that speaks to this moment.
Borders can no longer simply be understood as the geographical divisions between nation-states. Today, their form and function has become too complex, too hybrid. What we need now is a theory of the border that can make sense of this hybridity across multiple domains of social life. Rather than viewing borders as the result or outcome of pre-established social entities like states, Thomas Nail reinterprets social history from the perspective of the continual and constitutive movement of the borders that organize and divide society in the first place.
We live in an age of the mobile image. This recent kinetic revolution of the image has enormous consequences not only for the way we think about contemporary art and aesthetics but also for art history as well. Responding to this historical moment, Theory of the Image offers a fresh new theory and history of art from the perspective of this epoch-defining mobility. The image has been understood in many ways, but it is rarely understood to be fundamentally in motion.