Magical Realist Sociologies of Belonging and Becoming: The Explorer, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Magical Realist Sociologies of Belonging and Becoming

The Explorer, 1st Edition

By Rodanthi Tzanelli


296 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367432393
pub: 2020-03-17
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At the bottom of the sea, freedivers find that the world bestows humans with the magic of bodily and mental freedom, binding them in small communities of play, affect and respect for nature. On land, rational human interests dissolve this magic into prescriptive formulas of belonging to a profession, a nation and an acceptable modernity. The magical exploration is morphed by such multiple interventions successively from a pilgrimage, to a cinematic and digital articulation of an anarchic project, to an exercise in national citizenship and finally, a projection of post-imperial cosmopolitan belonging.

This is the story of an embodied, relational and affective journey: the making of the explorer of worlds. At its heart stands a clash between individual and collective desires to belong, aspirations to create and the pragmatics of becoming recognised by others. The primary empirical context in which this is played is the contemporary margins of European modernity: the post-troika Greece. With the project of a freediving artist, who stages an Underwater Gallery outside the iconic island of Amorgos, as a sociological spyglass, it examines the networks of mobility that both individuals and nations have to enter to achieve international recognition, often at the expense of personal freedom and alternative pathways to modernity.

Inspired by fusions of cultural pragmatics, phenomenology, phanerology, the morphogenetic approach, feminist posthumanism and especially postcolonial theories of magical realism, this study examines interconnected variations of identity and subjectivity in contexts of contemporary mobility (digital and embodied travel/tourism). As a study of cultural emergism, the book will be of interest to students and scholars in critical theory, cultural, postcolonial and decolonial studies, and tourism/pilgrimage theory.


"The book is an imaginative contribution to the sociology of aesthetics and offers interesting perspectives on mobility and belonging."

— Gerard Delanty, Professor of Sociology, Social and Political Thought, Sussex European Institute & School of Law, Politics and Sociology.

"Rodanthi’s multi-layered monograph offers intricate social-scientific analyses of the key human processes of becoming and belonging. Through four rhizomatic ‘readings’ that draw on various instantiations of the magical-realist type of ‘the explorer’, the author shares her critical insights about the current condition of Greece in particular and post-colonialisation and neo-liberalisation in general. That this thought-provoking text is hard to summarize or categorize is perhaps all the more reason to read it."

— Noel B. Salazar, Sociocultural Anthropologist, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Table of Contents

A Preface Not to Skip

An Epistemological and Methodological Introduction

Reading One: The Pendulum of Environmental and Artistic Firstness

Reading Two: Thanatourism and Community-Making

Reading Three: (Inter)national Aesthetics: Cinematic Thirdness

Reading Four: International Indexing: The Biophysics of Land(scape)

Conclusion: Reading zero: Dual (un)consciousness and the Mathematics of Being


About the Author

Rodanthi Tzanelli is Associate Professor of Cultural Sociology at the University of Leeds, UK. She is author of numerous research papers and chapters, as well as eleven monographs.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Sociology

This series presents cutting-edge developments and debates within the field of sociology. It provides a broad range of case studies and the latest theoretical perspectives, while covering a variety of topics, theories and issues from around the world. It is not confined to any particular school of thought.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General