Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

THE CIVILIZATION OF PERPETUAL MOVEMENT: Nomads in the Modern World by Nick McDonell

THE CIVILIZATION OF PERPETUAL MOVEMENT: Nomads in the Modern World by Nick McDonell
01 Jun
‘The practice of perpetual mobility as political expression essential to cultural identity and livelihood’ – an attempted definition of nomadism by Nick McDonell, a subject he feels is woefully misunderstood.

The key word is ‘political’. Throughout this book, McDonell insists his central ambition is for nomadism to become understood as a political choice by people who are not ‘primitive’ or ‘backwards’, as reports and essays have labelled them, but instead are capable of being entirely globalised, owning property, and representing themselves in relevant discussions.

Irrespective of their wishes, however, numerous governments, from Mali to China to Kenya, have adopted the eradication of ‘mobile people’ as a cause to loudly bang a drum for. Their vague excuses for this agenda range from stimulating economic growth,
to improving life prospects. McDonell points the finger at nomads’ challenging of the modern nation-state-centric political consensus as the motivation.

Initially, the book resembles a thorough review of historical and contemporary writings regarding nomadism. He is dismissive of vast swathes of material on the subject, regarding many commentators as either poorly informed or blatantly enhancing their own agenda. He attempts to gather all information and viewpoints that he considers necessary to understand nomadism, in order to stimulate new discussion among those working in international relations.

If you are one such person, then you have been gifted with material for what could be fascinating research into a subject that ranges from being heavily romanticised to held in disdain by the international community.

This review was published in the June 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Click here to purchase The Civilization of Perpetual Movement: Nomads in the Modern World by Nick McDonell from Amazon


NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...


Tom Chivers is a writer, publisher and arts producer. His…


Our nonfiction reviews for Septemer 


Journalist, author and humanitarian Tara Kangarlou spent four years reporting…


Jonathan Drori CBE FRGS is the author of the international…


Explore the month's best nonfiction reads 


by Jonathan Drori, illustrated by Lucille Clerc • Laurence King Publishing


Your monthly dose of recommended nonfiction reads for June