Traveling Back: Toward a Global Political Theory
We live in a global age, an age of vast scale and speed, an age of great technological and economic and environmental change, in conditions our ancestors could hardly have imagined. What does that mean for our political thinking? Do we need new modes of political thought or a new kind of political imagination? How might we begin to develop a truly global political theory?
Against the common belief that we need a wholly new political theory for this new age, McWilliams argues that the best foundation for a global political theory is already behind us and can be found by traveling back. In doing this - revisiting the history of political thought with a mind to the questions attending globalization - it becomes clear that the greatest tool for understanding our "new world" lies in one of the oldest themes in Western political theorizing: travel. From the beginnings of Western political thought - from the ancient Greek practice of travel called theoria - political theorists have used images of travel to illuminate the central questions of globalization. Where travel stories appear, we find serious reflection about how to live in cross-cultural and interconnected political conditions. Here we find attention to the contingency of political identity, to hybridity, to the threats of colonialism and imperialism. We even find self-critical questioning about the dangers that face political theorists who want to think globally.In Traveling Back, Susan McWilliams uncovers the rich travel-story tradition of political theorizing that speaks directly to the problems of our age. She explores why this travel-story tradition has been so long neglected, especially in this time when we need its wisdom, and calls for its rediscovery. In order to move forward toward a global political theory, McWilliams eloquently demonstrates that we must first learn to travel back.
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