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Land of Strangers

ISBN: 978-0-7456-5217-7
200 pages
May 2012, Polity
Land of Strangers (0745652174) cover image
The impersonality of social relationships in the society of strangers is making majorities increasingly nostalgic for a time of closer personal ties and strong community moorings. The constitutive pluralism and hybridity of modern living in the West is being rejected in an age of heightened anxiety over the future and drummed up aversion towards the stranger. Minorities, migrants and dissidents are expected to stay away, or to conform and integrate, as they come to be framed in an optic of the social as interpersonal or communitarian. Judging these developments as dangerous, this book offers a counter-argument by looking to relations that are not reducible to local or social ties in order to offer new suggestions for living in diversity and for forging a different politics of the stranger.

The book explains the balance between positive and negative public feelings as the synthesis of habits of interaction in varied spaces of collective being, from the workplace and urban space, to intimate publics and tropes of imagined community. The book proposes a series of interventions that make for public being as both unconscious habit and cultivated craft of negotiating difference, radiating civilities of situated attachment and indifference towards the strangeness of others. It is in the labour of cultivating the commons in a variety of ways that Amin finds the elements for a new politics of diversity appropriate for our times, one that takes the stranger as there, unavoidable, an equal claimant on ground that is not pre-allocated.

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Introduction
1. The Freight of Social Ties
2. Collaborating Strangers
3. Strangers in the City
4. Remainders of Race
5. Imagined Community
6. A Calamitous End?
Epilogue
Bibliography
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Ash Amin is the 1931 Chair of Geography at the University of Cambridge.
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  • A major new book by a leading social and cultural theorist on the renewal of politics in contemporary societies characterized by diversity and difference.
  • Argues against the temptation to look back nostalgically to a time of supposedly close interpersonal ties in the hope that this will enable us to overcome problems of alienation and xenophobia.
  • Argues against the temptation to look back nostalgically to a time of supposedly close interpersonal ties in the hope that this will enable us to overcome problems of alienation and xenophobia.
  • This cutting-edge book will be of great interest to students and scholars in geography, sociology, politics, cultural studies and throughout the humanities and social sciences. It will also be of interest to a wider readership concerned about the renewal of politics in the context of debates about immigration and multiculturalism.
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'Amin's unbated curiousity and inquisitiveness allow him to reinvigorate established social and political theories that aspire to formulate inclusive identities and spaces for the integration of the stranger, while acknowledging that the current economic and political conditions of imposed austerity measures and the rise of the Far Right do not favour this much-needed experimentation and disengagement.'
Radical Philosophy

‘This is a brilliant and illuminating book. Ash Amin relentlessly dispels clichés about modern society in reader-friendly prose; more positively, he explores ways to manage the complexities with which we live.'
Richard Sennett, London School of Economics and New York University

‘The prize is an important one: to forge a politics of belonging that does not prejudge the meaning of belonging and allows solidarity to coexist between the parties involved. After reading this brilliant book, I am convinced that such a politics is possible and could help to extend civility in ways that we are only just beginning to think about. Reviewers tend to overuse the phrase "essential reading" but this book really is.'
Nigel Thrift, University of Warwick

‘An insightful and genuinely interdisciplinary exploration of the moral and material basis of how to nurture a sense of togetherness in a society of relative strangers. Both analytical and normative, the book opens up imaginative ways of building a sense of the commons in a volatile and alienated social universe.'
Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh, University of Westminster

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