The Experience of Migration: From Metaphor to Metamorphosis

  • Thanos Zartaloudis University of Kent, UK
Keywords: Agamben, Aristotle, Deleuze, Guattari, Metamorphosis, Metaphor, Migration, Paul, Pneuma, Supplication, Threshold


In media, political and lay representations of migrants it remains frequently the case that metaphors are systematically used in racist and demeaning manners, though also, occasionally, in positive ways empathizing with the plight of refugees, migrant communities and the sans papiers. In this piece, however, I wish to note the wider, more personal and speculative reasons as to why metaphors are so frequently used and are, it seems, so widely effective in shaping social perceptions. In late modernity, in the affluent north-west some name the migrant through demeaning metaphors in an attempt to deny their anxiety over their inessence and instability, a pushing away of the common and constant transferal in our species’ shapeshifting linguistic being of the non-linguistic. I think this with and against the use of metaphors towards a sense of metamorphosis, including through a reading of the pneumatic body in Paul.

Author Biography

Thanos Zartaloudis, University of Kent, UK

Thanos Zartaloudis is Reader in Legal Theory and History at Kent Law School, University of Kent and is the co-director of Kent’s Interdisciplinary Spatial Studies Centre and the Research Group on Philosophy, Political Theology and Law. He also supervises doctoral students at the Architectural Association, London. In 2021–22 he will be an associate at the Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard University. His most recent book is The Birth of Nomos (Edinburgh University Press, 2019). His forthcoming books include: The Cabinet of Imaginary Laws (ed. with Peter Goodrich, Routledge, 2021); and Yan Thomas – Legal Artifices: Ten Essays on Roman Law in the Present Tense (ed. with C. Francis), trans. Anton Schütz and Chantal Schütz (EUP, 2021).