Astray: A History of Wandering (Hardcover)
This book explores how, far from being an act limited to deviation from known pathways or desirable plans of action, wandering is an abundant source of meaning—a force as intimately involved in the history of our universe as it will be in the future of our planet. In ancient Australian Aboriginal cosmology, in works about the origins of democracy and surviving disasters in ancient Greece, in Eurasian steppe nomadic culture, in the lifeways of the Roma, in the movements of today’s refugees, and in our attempts to preserve spaces of untracked online freedom, wandering is how creativity and skills of adaptation are preserved in the interests of ongoing life. Astray is an enthralling look at belonging and at notions of alienation and hope.
"Summers-Bremner’s delightfully distracted cultural history of wandering, Astray, endeavors to teach us the value and meaning of errancy in the warming worlds of late capitalist technocracy. . . . Summers-Bremner’s history of wandering seeks not to romanticise anarchy or formalise chaos, but to quietly and rationally defend our abiding need for democracy, sanctuary, origin, errancy, and meaning. . . . The nomadic germ that Astray excavates across a dazzling range of materials emerges instead as the essence of an older, richer, and potentially life-saving form or feeling of community—routed through ancient democracy—that we will do well to reacquaint ourselves with in the tumultuous times to come."
"With a delinquently hobo eye, Summers-Bremner tracks a winding way through the wayward lives of those of no fixed abode: exiles, fugitives, nomads, the restless, the renegade, the vagrant, and defectors of every kind from settlement. Keeping a wary distance from the longing for belonging, Summers-Bremner shows elatingly how often displacement is, more than a predicament, an alertly styled way of life, and so a vital resource for an uncertain future."
— Steven Connor, professor of English emeritus at the University of Cambridge, author of "The Madness of Knowledge"