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Voyaging in smooth space: The politics of nomads in the age of the corporation

Cook, I. and Thompson, G. (2012) Voyaging in smooth space: The politics of nomads in the age of the corporation. In: Australian Continental Philosophy Association Annual Conference, 10 - 12 December, Auckland, New Zealand.


Using Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of nomadism requires understanding their philosophy of space and movement. Much contemporary work misunderstands Deleuze and Guattari’s work on space-time. This is dangerous, in that it fails to account for the ways the corporation (capitalism) uses and creates smooth space, which is the domain of the nomad. We do not intend that the notion of nomadism be abandoned, however, but that it be understood differently. The paper is in three parts. First, we outline Deleuze and Guattari’s geophilosophical notions of nomadism, States and war machines and the associated concepts of smooth and striated space. Then we discuss appropriations of nomadism to illustrate the romanticisation of nomads as contemporary figures of disruption and resistance. Third, we argue that this appropriation both misunderstands space in Deleuze and Guattari and serves no critical function when the rigid lines of the State have been overlaid by the “transmutable or transformable coded configurations” of the late-modern corporation (Deleuze 1995: 181). While much of the paper is a critical account of the misappropriation of nomadism, we explore both the ways that nomadism presents new machines and logics of capture and escape. Engaging with questions of utility reveals possibilities with respect to lines of flight and probe-heads, while acknowledging the risk of potential psychosis, prestigious death and/or reterritorialisation on reterritorialisation.

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