Transborder Translating (Chapter 6/6)

Posté par radaivekovicunblogfr le 16 décembre 2009

Apart from the separate presentation on this site of the unpublished book A politics of philosophy, the latter starts here from its second chapter. The site is under construction and the chapters too. The first chapter of A Politics of Philosophy will not appear here, as it has been shortened and transformed into a paper for the online journal Transeuropéennes, (2009), where it can be read. That paper is titled “A Politics of Philosophy since Modernity. Indian and Western philosophies”.

©rada iveković


Rada Iveković,
Transborder Translating

What is Translation

I call transbordering – translation.

Translation is a theoretically problematic concept [1]. I oppose it to the concept of “dialogue” as it appears in some contexts where it forces an apparently symmetrical dichotomy, but really hides a hierarchy. I mean here the idea of a “dialogue between cultures” (implying closed communities with defined borders as agencies), as opposed to intercontextual translation among individuals and languages. Translation, as i see it here – not in the narrow sense – , is a vital form of resistance (through the differential critical expression of differences) to the hegemonic lines of imposition of the/a meaning. In this sense, translation is transformation inherent in life as a whole and governing not only that part of it which is language. Translation is therefore also a possible vehicle of power (or of powerlessness). It has at its disposal a whole array of degrees, nuances, divergences; a range of (im)possibilities, of traversals and transversals of meaning. Translation is the exchange between different forms of being or existing. Contrary to what we (wrongly) believe with regard to textual translation, rendition actually flows both ways and in all directions, it is reciprocity and crisscrossing, even when this is not acknowledged. Paul Gilroy builds the concept of Black Atlantic upon the two-way (or at least two way) translation of which one direction only – from North to South, from White to Black Atlantic – used to be recognised [2]. This is why every translation is imperfect and incomplete – but could the same thing not be said of every « original »? In other words, there always remains something untranslated. It is the price and the proviso of comprehension and translation, which is possible in theory but always more or less ruled out in practice. There is no such thing as exhaustive translation or word-to-word univocal and satisfactory translation. There is no satisfactory translation for that matter.

But does “untranslated” necessarily imply “untranslatable”? What appears to me to be problematic is to claim that there is such a thing as a principled untranslatability, borders that cannot be crossed, like a fatality; or indeed that there should be thoroughly reliable translatability. And yet clearly, and luckily, untranslatables do exist [3]. But what consistence shall we give them? Aren’t they like borders, both impediments and crossing lines? Both closures and bridges? The limits of the sayable can be modified. But, as we have learnt from Nāgārjuna, the concept of “translatable” will come to us only in the binary with “untranslatable”. That binary is unsatisfactory and limiting our translation imagination. And the fact of co-conceiving the translatable and the untranslatable, and indeed being unable to think either without the other, provides access to a « middle way », and also the possibility of getting beyond seeing dichotomy as an ultimate horizon or blockage. Between two terms, two languages or two cultures, there is always the possibility of a relatively successful (which also means, relatively unsuccessful) mediation or translation – one that is insufficient but still offers hope by half-opening the door to a meaning. That meaning will be displaced, and will get through creating a whole new world. Meaning happens in-between, in relation, at least as translation of an inner sense to a communicable discursive sense. It is necessarily shifting and shattering. Translation is no more than an opening-up of meaning, crossing the line, and never a promise of exhaustiveness. But isn’t life so too? And yet one cannot speak of identity between the two terms, languages or cultures in question, country-to and country-from, even in the case of successful translation. There is correspondence, approximation, comparison, displacement, comprehension even, resemblance maybe, but no identity. Difference is included, maintained or indeed reshuffled in the translation. But perhaps this is the price of its success, imperfect (and thus still necessary) as it may be. The price of translation. In the best case, translation runs both ways, and crosses borders all the time: translation is necessarily transborder.

Besides seeing it as resistance, i would like to suggest that translation is the original mother tongue of humankind, in the sense that there is no language that does not reach out to the other (self; person, or group) and intend meaning even when monologic, as well as meaning a technique of negotiation and a strategy of survival in common and in integration. Surely, the scope of the “common” may be uncertain, as well as the boundaries of the particular universe of images, representations and ideas. The concept of translation as the mother tongue implies the border as your country. People can have borders for their countries for different reasons, willingly or compelled. Most have no choice and in that sense borders are not to be celebrated. It is an unstable and uncomfortable position, a tragic one, when not chosen. For most of the migrant and undocumented population today, the various refugees and exiles, it is far from being sexy. For the elites, including ourselves, but also for non nationalists or non fundamentalists in general, it may be an escape from nationalist or “cultural” ghettoes. The relationship to transborder translation, as well as to borders tout court, then, is very ambiguous. You need to learn living at the border as in permanent challenge and insecurity. Is there anything else in Palestine/Israel but the border? Or in Pakistan/Afghanistan? The whole surface of the countries has become an all-encompassing border, a death trap. Borders are also states of exception. Through their extension to situations like the last mentioned, they tend to become permanent exceptions. This state of exception, a constitutive element of sovereignty, becoming nowadays the rule and dangerously inverting the scheme of the saying that the exception confirms the rule – now indicates that the exception of the untenable has spread so as to become the rule: as borders within Europe “disappear”, some much more terrible borders appear without (out of sight, because seeing them is disturbing), elsewhere and everywhere. They tend to generalise. Borders expand, extend with centres of detention, of retention, spaces retrieved from publicity, withdrawn from public space, reprieved from our consciousness as the space between them shrinks. This is a situation unknown before globalisation: fortress Europe, open camps for undocumented “aliens” in different European countries, boat-people crossing the Mediterranean or the western coast of Africa to a well guarded southern border, internment and filing of foreigners, the Israeli wall against Palestine, the USA wall facing Mexico, torture, humiliation and ill-treatment of prisoners in Iraq by the US Army and coalition forces, Sangatte, La Jungle and other Guantanamos (a space out of all legal and legitimate spaces) – all that is quite up to the level of the now almost “benign” Berlin Wall and various Gulags, because there is no more checking, no translation, and no double meaning, no reading between the lines in this new era of Newspeak. This is our situation today, which won’t allow us to idealise borders. There is a bitter taste to the celebrations of 40 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Apart from that, translation is complicated by all sorts of circumstances, and in particular by the context and an inherent intercontextuality. It is also thorny due to the relationship of the two things to be translated, which is necessarily a relationship of inequality in the sense that one of them is translated into the idiom of the other, thus creating a typical situation of différend [4]. There remains something unsaid in this situation, or again there is a “transborder” residue of what has no language; which is more or less the same thing as saying that there is something unheard, an inaccessible space – a no-woman’s land. It is the body and the order of bodies. This basic inequality and injustice, which is already political (before there is any such thing as politics), can still be aggravated by historical circumstances that have made one of the two terms of the relationship – dominant. Since Foucault, at least, but also as a result of work done by anthropologists and psychoanalysts, we know that in the last analysis it is a question of the body. And there are other disciplinary, and undisciplined, approaches, such as feminist theory, post-colonial studies etc., which tell us that what cannot be articulated or understood in conventional language also comes from the other, from the “untranslatable” transborder side – for example the Black Atlantic, from the immediate experience of repression, the limit of which is also very much the body. It is somehow with the body, or within the body, that there remains an inviolable space, the transborder body not exhausted in itself or by violence.

All of this boils down to the idea that translation involves bodies and movement; and this is the sense, both extended and restricted, in which i am using it here. An instance of organ-transplantation/intrusion-of-another-body would in this respect be no more than an extremely dramatic individual case in point. And it is in this « primary » sense that i will now take up the theme of the politics of translation, through our position as (female) mediators, both translators and translated. In this paradoxical position of holding both sides of the stick [5] it is however not easy (and traditionally, not allowed) to tackle the fundamental question of the more general political circumstances of translation/intrusion. I will also take the opportunity to project another exercise in intermediacy, above and beyond what has just been put forward, namely that which could take shape between “western” philosophies and certain concepts to be found in “Indian” philosophies. What is to be translated is not texts, but contexts. And what encourages me to do so is the crisis, the critical situation in which the body finds itself; because the body (chronically always, but acutely – often), discovering itself called into question, heads towards translation, communication or transformation, as the only way out. It is the body, for its life, that grasps toward translation. It is apparently (above all) the crisis that puts us in a condition of translation and opens us up to a new meaning. A border invites a transborder situation and lives by it, as well as vice-versa. The “identities”, spread on both sides of the line of partition/division (partage in the French double sense) then [6]. On another level, Veena Das, talking about analogous situations, used the term « critical events » [7].

Neither of the two extreme positions, i.e. to say that languages or cultures can be translated, or that they cannot, seems viable if it is to be the only one. Experience teaches us that translation always takes place, and is always unsatisfactory. The feeling of imperfection or incompleteness that results from every attempt at translation is not confined to this experience alone. More profoundly, it characterises the human condition, the existential paradox of being at once mortal and destined for immortality, at once limited and unlimited. No language, no translation, no « inter-pretation » can express this completely, because that process is never closed. Our condition, our origin, our final state is situated neither in the term to be translated nor in the result of the translation, but rather in this unbearable, intolerable inter-, between-two that we nonetheless tolerate: the border, the transborder situation. It is the paradox of having a body and not being reducible to it, but not being able to live or think without it either. It is true that this condition could change when we (but who is « we »?) get to the point of thinking without bodies [8], and it may be that “we” (?) are approaching that point. But i will not speculate on this ideal identity between the self and (one)self, whose will and effects of violence i have discussed elsewhere [9]. Translation (and life itself) takes place in this un-conditionality, this imperative of the animated body [10]. As such, translation is no more than a relationship, being nothing in itself and without its terms. It is thus the line between life and death that keeps life on, that allows for translation and movement. Which means that death is within life. It is never « only » a question of the body, but also of the way in which the condition of the being is enfolded by it (without, but also with, organs; anatomy or not), and reciprocally, but not symmetrically, a certain “translation” lies in the way that the prism of the psychical, social and historical refracts the body. In this sense, we will always have been a graft of ourselves as other, overcoming our own bodily (and…?) borders. And grafts can add onto others, thus complicating things, as Jean-Luc Nancy shows in L’Intrus [11]. Life grows out of life, however “imperfect”. Not only is animated corporality the condition of translation, but it makes translation necessary: there is no situation other than translation; there is no pure “natural” state that is still untranslated or unreflected. Even total incomprehension demonstrates this. To imagine a state (of language, or civilisation) before all translation and transborder movement [12] would be like imagining a body without a “soul”, a pure nature, or biological sex clearly distinct from gender, outside of all mediation. This would mean falling into the nature-culture, sex-gender, female-male, subject-object, interior-exterior dichotomy. It would also mean imagining that, in the dyad, the two terms could be equal, symmetrical, and without any implicit hierarchy. Culture is first and foremost a matter of translation, even within a given language. But language (re)produces – and thrives on – not only differences and borders, but also inequalities. Any border is indeed ineffable, because it is a crossing line, a vanishing meeting point and because it is nothing in itself, being all in a relationship of the twain that tries hard to build separate and autonomous identities.

Translation is preceded by many experiences of mediation, and many intimidating obstacles, attempts at establishing borders. Is the most difficult thing not – translating from the interior to the exterior, in other words exposing oneself to others – going from the intimate dimension to the public dimension, crossing the line and overcoming the inhibition? And is it not characteristic of a hegemonic force to want to keep for itself the codes of exclusive translation, and of all interpretation, or to want to give a definitive connotation? One might give as an example the western “universal” will to power (although the west is not in the west alone any longer), but also every other attempt to impose a single meaning by force (all totalitarianism, all fundamentalism); which would mean putting a stop to translation and displacement, and compressing time: and this is already violence.

Opening new meaning(s) through translation doubtless amounts to resisting and overcoming such stoppages. It also brings about an enlargement of temporality (away from the one and only way), and its decompression. Time is necessary to translation, as it is to life or to any movement. As movement, it also implies dis-placement, travelling: going from one place to another, which often also means coming back to oneself. Learning life and achieving adequacy with oneself through the other, by crossing the border. This is also the gesture described by anthropology, by travel narratives (often the same, see Lévi-Strauss) [13], by the Bildungsroman or by conquering disciplines and sciences, by knowledge itself. Instantaneity may then be like cuts in time, in meaning or, quite simply, a form of violence and a reconfiguration of the same. The violence of time compressed or abruptly interrupted happens in great events as mayhems, when an old order is disrupted and a new one established. The old convention or equilibrium is then subjected to a process of erasure and oblivion which may rub out the past experiences of living people and censure their beliefs, common memories [14], opinions or mere existence.

The time of translation is precisely its quality as relationship – as nothing in itself outside its terms (like borders) – which Buddhism for itself calls « avidyâ”. It is, indeed, a lack of knowledge regarding the bond itself (translation) or the springing up of borders, which is unavoidably the case since we are necessarily within this correlation; and it is the limit of language. In the « act » of translation involving the body, on the other hand, as in any other reciprocity, one begins by knowing directly and without an object [15], though one may not be certain of being able to bring through and all the way this immediateness which is hoped for, and which promises continuity without violence. It is in this spirit that a unique time, halted time, curtails the possibilities and choices of events, as well as eliminating alternative histories (along with alternative readings and translations), reducing them to received history.

To take in other meanings through translation or other identities through transbordering may involve, as in love, desire, putting oneself in translation (and in question); coupling or doubling, and transforming oneself. If this is the case, one might say of translation what Jean-Luc Nancy says of the (sexual) relationship: « Decidedly, therefore, there is no relationship, in the sense of there being an account, or accounting, of the excess: not because there is any interminable outpouring in the excess as such (which would tend to come down to an oceanic, fusional form of entropy), but because excess is simply, strictly and exactly access to oneself as difference, and to difference as such; in other words, precisely, access to what cannot be challenged or instantiated as such unless its ‘as such’ is exposed as what is never such (which would be implied by the idea of an evaluation, a measurement or a consummation of the relationship). Of relationships as relationships, there is nothing. » [16]

Translation is thus in itself a copulation, a linking, i.e. the apposition, the hooking-up and the bond between two (of which each is plural) that will be transformed within the relationship. The result of a translation cannot but differ from the « original », and will cor-respond to it only in part: it will respond-in-return-with-it. Translation is this coming and going of meanings, with the impossibility, and sometimes the inter-diction, of acceding to meaning, and yet with a meaning or meanings that are at least derived, even if they remain at the limit (on the boundaries) of the incomprehensible; because even the interdict does not completely prevent – it does not make anything impossible, but makes things otherwise-accessible. Even the toughest borders are crossed. And, much as the « sexual relationship » , the « translatory & transbordering relationship » [17] brings in nothing that can be capitalised on, but chronically, and also acutely, presents oversupply and shortage. Translation is never a calculation with a clear-cut result nor is any transbordering definitive. It takes account of a difference that it resolves imperfectly and sometimes falsifies (more or less) satisfactorily. It is the act of differing, without there being a definite origin or a definitive culmination. No translation is anything other than a segment of intermediacy in an infinite process. It is creation in the same way that the « original » is creation, and is just as good, or bad, but independently so. The dissimilarity of the thing itself to itself and the impossibility of the identical refer back to the exception that underlies every identity, or at least all that would not already exist if it did not take upon itself an exception or a translation. And thus it is that the fantasised sovereignty of the original is right away split apart as persistently different, made up of implicit inclusions despite explicit exclusions. What is there on this side of translation, that, in any case, goes beyond the concrete act of translating, and its product? It is the text, translating to and through us, the interpreters, from its author, and translating us by inscribing us also in the new version. Translation is also an inscription on bodies. But aren’t borders too? Transforming us. The identities of the authors/translators/trespassers become blurred [18]. What the non-perfectibility of translation shows, as dynamics impossible to pacify, of the sexual relationship (as well as the social relationship between the sexes), is the general inaptitude of the conceptual disposition of the subject-object relation, which is a summating function (totalizirajuća funkcija).

The horizon of (the) translation – of each succeeding, or different, translation – recedes like a kośa: an orbit or pocket of meaning going from the interior to the exterior (and vice versa) [19]. The « impossible » nature of translation and crossing over would then correspond to the impossibility of enjoyment that Nancy talks about, whose solution is to be found each time at another level: « If there is something impossible in enjoyment, it is so because there is something of the intimate, in other words the one (or she, or he), that endlessly backs off beyond any possible attribution. The impossibility of enjoyment [and of translation? R.I.] signifies that it manages, only, not to lay itself down in a state (as in legal terminology, which talks about the « enjoyment » of a good), and that its fulfilment is its act as such. But in this way, it does so: in fact it does nothing else. » [20]

Invasions [21], intrusions, hybrids [22], mêlées [23] and other forms of muddle, and sometimes even a certain violence [24] always latent at borders, have also been a source of life, culture and reflection, beyond their destructive effects. How is the internal, intimate dimension to be translated into an exterior, public dimension? [25]

This is a painful deflection of the process of learning what one should already know. It is a harsh form of erudition by which one unlearns – so as to know. And so it is also a question of time; because apparently it is only when time becomes short that one learns, or has the clairvoyance of a cinematographic, retrospective view of life. But was time not too short, was there not too little time to begin with? This meeting with time, which comes only to certain people, can do no more than appear like unexpected lightning, like an intrusion – the kind that accompanies moments of ontological disturbance.

Translating bodies overboard

« The intruder is not another than myself and the man himself; not another than the same one who never stops changing, at once sharpened and exhausted, denuded and over-equipped, an intruder in the world as well as in oneself, a worrying upsurge of strangeness, connatus with excrescent infinity. » (Nancy, L’Intrus, p. 45.) It is not by chance that this passage comes at the end of Jean-Luc Nancy’s disturbing little book: it signifies the end of a learning process: the painful recognition of one’s own origin in the other, the impossibility of maintaining the principle of identity (except by using violence), and the abandoning of genealogy. Genealogy pursued is ultimately a filiation leading up to oneself. To one’s own self. It is “monotheistic”.

Just as one cannot locate life exactly, except to say where the conditions for it are no longer satisfied, one cannot locate identity, though one can guess its limits. It is as if the space of identities remained vague and indefinable, except for the interface (slash) which shows them without being able to define them, and which is nothing in itself but which, through them, can be provisionally traced out: life/death, identity/non-identity: « At the very least, what happens is this: identity comes down to immunity; the one is identifiable with the other. » This gives us an idea of borders and boundaries. Does immunity intervene into the question of identity? « The old viruses that have always been there, lurking… » (Nancy, L’Intrus, p. 33.) They do not necessarily come from outside [26]. They gather momentum from the karma: nothing is repeated the same, nothing is maintained identically. Everything is recycled at each instant by the new circumstances; including the viruses.

The interesting and only apparently violent and, according to some, pornographic (but none of that to us) movie by Catherine Breillat, Anatomie de l’enfer (2004), attempts a translation between a feminine universe, in want of translation and relating to the other, and a masculine homosexual universe untranslatable and closed to the other, shunning contact with women. Or rather, this pessimistic movie speaks of the rejection of translation between the two, in an impossible relationship enacted between the woman and the gay man, as the main pattern of (male) culture. It criticizes it.

Discrepancies between one’s sense or meaning of life and the (only) meaning that is given, in experiences of non-freedom, make us meet the limits of language and thinking. Such ontological disturbances, in extreme cases slavery, colonialism, women’s bondage, war, and others sometimes impose a choice between life and liberty. The border is often, we have seen it in the recent Yugoslav wars, an impossible choice between life and liberty.

It is true that the thresholds of ontological questioning – the sensitivities – can be different, and that they depend on the individual. They can certainly range from mystical enlightenment to poetic transparence and the recursive specularisation of life; or to the encounter with death. But it would seem that this step is always ensured without it being known where exactly it is situated when the body is called into question. This is not necessarily the case with other upheavals [27]. On the other hand, ontological disturbances of a spiritual or mystical order can also, according to reports, lead to the smooth extinction of the body. All the « therapies » – yoga, or techniques of contemplation, of which there is an abundance in the Indian philosophical schools (all of which are concerned, first and foremost, with practical applications) – talk about this. Nowhere in life can one put one’s finger on the distinction between « body and soul » or « body and mind ». Neither exists without the other. Binaries are insufficient to express complexity. The reconstruction of this separation is generally among the strategies of power. It is also the limit of representation, and that of language. The most common forms of this ontological disturbance (ébranlement), when it has to do with the body, are: for women, certainly, the fact of giving birth (that of producing the other from oneself, and of multiplying oneself); and, for everyone in general, the fact of losing a loved one, or simply that of meeting death in one form or another; of experiencing violence, for example war; losing one’s footing as a result of the collapse of the world that sustained us, becoming stateless. But everything points to the notion that the existential challenging of the body, and of life, go beyond this, and only highlight the existential and ontological chasm – the realisation that there is no foundation. Some cultures have always attempted to live with such an awareness.

The Balkans [28]

While speaking of the Balkans, i mainly bear in mind the Yugoslav space because I am more familiar with it and because the logic of violence that has been animating it the over the last decades in war and state building now has rendered more explicit and maybe more readable the mechanisms of boundary-construction, but i think the same applies elsewhere too. I will take the “Balkans” to mean an identity non-identical with itself, in its turn full of multiple identities in the making. What is “identity” anyway? As a claim, it is an excess of self, an appropriative positioning, and one that needs to construct alterity in order to build itself. The more shaky the identities, the more they are in the making, the more borders become insecure and a source of violence. As Maria Todorova shows in her book in the particular case of a would-be “Balkan identity”, it is a particularly unstable one, one where de-identification is at work all the time through a complex process of othering – othering being curiously enough at the source of self and of identity. Any territorialisation takes that shape, and any territorialisation is made up of plentiful de-territorialisations of course (Deleuze) and the shifting borders. But where dramatic re-territorialisations take place, through cultural, political or other re-definitions or through and after wars, – borders and boundaries are being produced in excess [29]. Borders and boundaries are produced with both the intent to separate and identify restrictively, as well as with the simultaneous claim to overcome and identify at a higher level or to reach out for some wider identity. Europe is being constructed in this way, through its outer border reproducing constantly inner though local and confined, bordering, fragmentation. It may be strange to discover that culture can be, in such a context, an instrument of aggression in the sense of identity-building: under this guise, culture becomes naturalised, essentialised, instrumental, and operates exactly as the concept of “nature” in the context of reason split without sharing (podijeljeni um). Bigger integration movements (the European Union, globalisation), produce at the other end corresponding fragmentation. These reciprocal processes contain attempts at translation too, and greater integrations necessarily have mediating processes of translation. A democratic culture would have more of it, a non-democratic one less. But we now see how translation as well as transbordering involves moving along the vertical of an already existing hierarchy.

In my terminology, culture becomes essentialised in cases when translation is not attempted, and it can prepare for war, though not all communities, not all states, will necessarily start from there. But within the general world-wide ethnicisation, it is true that “culture” is used more and more often to denote things like religion, nature, difference etc. It actually means a general distrust of the universal. The latter is rather a feature of the globalised post-modern and post-colonial world, whereby pockets of “pre-modernity”, of “tradition” or of “under-development” as it once used to be called, coexist within the planet now identical to itself under the auspices of Coca-Cola.

The idea of “translating, between cultures” as an open-ended relational and reciprocal gesture of freedom putting into question the “translator” and the “original” itself can be opposed to the somewhat limiting and communitarian (communalist) arrogant idea of a “dialogue between cultures” (translation-as-violation), often proposed by a benevolent yet limited multi-culturalist approach. I see one such example in the French – restrictive – concept of francophonie. Non-translation means the preclusion of alternative history or histories. Such a premature shutting down of alternative histories, which is also a linguistic closure, means, at the level of languages, pulling away from the diverse; it implies non-communication, constructing un-translatabilities and incomprehension, forcing separation between related idioms (Serbian and Croatian, or Hindi and Urdu): constructing otherhood and striving to expulse it outside the “system”, or outside the “good world”: outside “our” borders. It is with fear and apprehension, therefore, that I see Europe closing it borders to individual migrants from the South and the East, and to a country such as Turkey. Or integrating a partitioned Cyprus into Europe in 2004. Or erasing recent history at the historical event of the admission of new countries into Europe, whereby it is taken for granted by everyone that the “Iron Curtain” used to pass between Yugoslavia (and on this occasion, Slovenia) and Western Europe. A TV programme (“Euro news”) on the day of the celebration in May 2004 even “showed” its viewers the alleged spot in Gorizia/Nova Gorica where the “Iron Curtain” was supposed to have run through the central square. Something that never existed was thus created a posteriori.

We have all been suffering from a process of tremendous de-semantisation building a one-dimensional world of an Imperium without translation and “without borders” (for the elites), with a simplistic bipolar vocabulary as “the axis of evil” etc. This is certainly a transition to a more plural world in which the one world power is confronted with emerging China. The intended or obtained meaning, here, is totalitarian. This one-mindedness is such that no reading between the lines is not possible in the unipolar world, as it was in the case of some more complex or subtler examples of totalitarian tendencies. Tendencies, rather than facts, in these patterns. Of course there is no translation at work in such cases, but no translation means – being at war. The third Iraq war has been a good example of that.

It is part and parcel in the making of any identity, and therefore of a national identity, to claim territory, create borders (pictured as female or “embodied” in women), and pretend to master time (the latter is the most powerful way of appropriation of the universal). Borders and limits are mere lines, they are an interface which intervenes in the process of appropriation of geographic and symbolic territories. Because they have no essence in themselves, they are impossible to locate without reference, by delimitation, to some possession of territory or of land. An identity is something that nests itself into an imaginary territory first, and real territory only thereafter. For this, it needs and uses a narration which brings about foundation myths, stories about the origin, images, representations and a fixed interpretation of history. Through stories and pictures, borders are drawn.

Colonial expansion is actually a historic process characteristic of any state – and it is a matter of degrees. The national state in Europe has been colonial in reality and vocation, and it has become “securitarian”. Colonialism, and later nationalism, imagined the “ discovered ” territories they proposed to civilise as empty space, nobody’s land. Territories, geography, countries, borders, for them, were virtually created ex nihilo. In North and Latin America, where nations were created without the local population or in disregard of it, underscored by an elitist dream about an imported population, about a ready made people coming from Europe and already in itself a political subject, the indigenous population could never be considered as a political subject, as citizens, much the same as women in general. Parallel to such « external » geographical colonisation, the constitution of a nation-state, involves a process of « internal colonisation » which is, among other things, inscribed on the bodies of individual women (the way they are fashioned) as well as on the body of a collective imaginary « womanhood ». Those are borders too. In the latter, female autonomy, the citizenship of women and their human rights are made subordinate to the interests of the community (religious or national) and of the state, under the ruling « gender regime ».

The year 1989 is usually the demarcation line of the end of socialism, and the date of embarkation for the post-socialist “transition” which was never clearly defined, but is clearly neo-liberal under the auspices of one power [30]. The general loss of universal, or its corruption since 1989, seems to point to some search for a new totality through such attempts as the enlargement of Europe and also the constitution of new mini-national-states etc. Such a configuration sprang to the fore in the events of the last decade of the 20 century in the Balkans (and it is not over yet), where the partitioning of Yugoslavia was a constitutive part of the integration of Europe appearing as its flipside. Europe is being constructed with its colonial and Cold War heritages unquestioned. The micro-national projects were not only gendered (as any national project is), but were carried out through an extremely forceful process of reconfiguration and re-negotiation of the ruling gender hegemony. Women are made to incarnate the nation and national (male) honour, and in the case of violence and war, they are constructed as borders with the enemy and treated as such (when they are not the enemy themselves; it comes very close to that because of the status of boundaries: the latter are fundamental in establishing identities, but are nothing tangible in themselves and can be remoulded when needed). The process of partition [31] and “nation building” is not intended to allow women to be subjects or agents of change, but to confine them to the position of an instrument for the transmission of messages from one community to the other (a double-bind situation, which amounts to submission). Women are the majority of the transborder population worldwide [32] and the translating link. Generally, women are the most frequent translation mediators too [33].

The ongoing process of European integration [34], as well as the whole process of globalisation of which it is a segment, implies at the other end, at the micro-level, processes of forceful ethnicisation. To encourage ethnicisation – as Europe has done in the Balkans over the last decade and since war – means encouraging disintegration. This means crisis, shattering of a system, changing a paradigm which dictate, among other negotiations, the renegotiation of the tacit patriarchal contract [35]. One of the ways through which such renegotiations are achieved, is war. The assessment of borders and boundaries in the Balkans and their gendered dynamics are neither unique nor specific to a particular (“ Balkan ”) culture. If they have to be granted special attention, it is because they offer acute or aggravated forms of problems which can be found in similar processes elsewhere. In this sense their analysis and comprehension do not need other theoretical tools than those we use to study similar phenomena within and outside Europe. This is why a comparative approach is useful.

The nation itself is first of all a community yet to be made into a society, and further, into a state [36]. The individual takes refuge within the group (the community), which makes him/her feel secure at the cost of his/her individuality and possibly even of his/her individual citizenship. This “maternal” metaphor discloses evidently an unquestioned hierarchy, expressed as the hierarchy of the fraternity, of the community, or of a vertical hierarchy. Borders are both horizontal and vertical. The maternal body to which the gregarious individuals or the member of some intolerant group surrenders (say, the violent fan of a football club, or the fanatical member of a party) is like the army, the unit, the organization, like a machine within which he is just a replaceable part like any other (Theweleit). Each of those members identifies with, and interiorise, the vertical principle and the “father-figure” (the Founding Fathers of the Nation, for example) in order to be able to communicate with the others over that higher office, and to belong to them. Such a symbiotically integrated group, as a figuration of the Whole, is directly fastened to the larger group, nation (the ethnic group, the religion, the community, depending on circumstances), which, although an empty signifier in itself, is in its turn an efficient machine for the production of the energy necessary for violence and conquest.

“Culture” as an instrument of differentiation, of border building and as a weapon is often used by defensive and separatist units, and definitely by conquering ones. The latter usually prefer the euphemism of “civilisation” to “culture” in such cases, which refers to colonial history There is a comparable “civilising mission” not only in historic colonialism, but also in the American way of life or in exporting democracy as a universal principle to the whole world. An interesting comparative study could be made about the differential usage of the concept of “culture”, or about how “culture” and “civilisation” compare within the appropriative logic of imposing not only hegemony but also domination.

There is a privileged relation between “culture” (naturalised and instrumental) and borders. In the case of the conflict and war in the former Yugoslavia, not all parties claimed culture as their focus, and not all made it their instrument; but all ended up claiming differential cultures excluding the neighbour yet reaching through to the broader and higher office of Europe. So new borders were erected in order to dissolve other ones. Croatia rather than Serbia had a tradition of using culture as its national emblem, and starting conflicts from language, from identifying the literary Canon, differentiating itself from the others. Slovenian independentists, although using it to a lesser degree than the Croatian ones in the past conflict, do come from a longer history of common survival around protective measures and archaic and isolationist postures about their language and culture. But all now separate states and nations engaged in an intense construction of their separate cultural identities. This was traumatic inasmuch as for generations (Yugoslavia had been one state on the same territory since 1918 and a project much longer) this meant separating from, and cutting away, parts of their culture formerly designed in a different configuration and a much larger span so as to cover the whole space of the former state in their imaginary.

Partitions of states, whether started or accomplished, produce apatrids, non-documented and stateless persons, people without right to the law (Hannah Arendt), forced migrants, deported and refugees, both internal and external, that largely outgrow, nowadays, the definition of the Geneva Convention of 1951 (UN) : on political refugees’ rights, on their right to non-refoulement (if not on more), the Convention is today outdated [37], while the distinction between political and economic emigration has become undecidable and irrelevant. Europe under construction has produced its various « nostalgic » subjects of partitioned countries such as Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Cyprus, sometimes even the Soviet Union (incomparable cases, it is true). The pretended « nostalgia » of these anti-partitionists has sometimes been an unrecognised opposition to new nationalisms and ethnocentrisms as well as to violence, rather than a lamentation on the disappearance of the anciens régimes (some of which socialist), and rather than romanticism. Their position resembles or reproduces, but at the next and higher level, the phenomenon of the depoliticised, non engaged, populations of countries with poor political and social citizenship and democratic traditions, individual or collective. The idea was to spare generations, whole populations, within « socialism » or over the Third World, but also elsewhere, having to stand out as political subject(s). It was to make them rather into the « raw material » of their “model” states and societies, while moulding a « sovereign people (suvereni narod) » proclaimed of age, but in whose name the official discourse nevertheless used its officialese newspeak (the situation of a palanka in an indigestion of Modernity). The apparent nostalgia for that period is only a regret for peace lost since and for a mixed society, and not an aspiration for the dictatorial régime. Once the legitimating of independence of the latter exhausted, the equilibrium of peace crumbled. The « nostalgia » in question, denounced by various ethnocrats or more or less single parties seated back in power, had also been a resistance condemned by them. But the processes nowadays under way, that the « nostalgic » themselves are not always able to grasp because sometimes their own lives are at stake, are not those same nationalisms, fundamentalisms, ethnocracies being established, but rather the becoming of Europe itself and the new configuration of the planet (globalisation) of which they are a portion. Europe is being made excluding the histories of many. This removal of outer elements has its parallel in the levelling of an inner historic dimension.

The intermediary ethnocracies that ruined our lives may well have been just secondary historic occurrences. Nationalisms will after all have been only episodes, certainly bloody and obnubilating our lives and views, but finally incidents of transition – towards new integrations and the new liberal world order. These new nationalisms and fundamentalisms, communalisms, while bringing violence – also homogenise – and seem in that sense modern : yet they are far from being it from the point of view of their social function, where they are disclosed as traditionalist and conservative, and more often worse in the international context [38].

I didn’t attempt here a historic approach, but rather a more “abstract” cultural (but not “cultural studies”) and philosophical perspective while not forgetting the physicality of partition, colonialism or war, dealing with principles, concepts, symbolic values of borders/boundaries, and suggesting “translation” as the way of dealing with it in a gender-democratic spirit. It is not about concrete borders being drawn though examples can be given from the Balkans or South Asia. Rather, it is a general philosophical or anthropological approach with only hints and references to localities with a possible comparison and translation with other areas of the world, looking for the commonalities in the mechanism. The underlying idea is that these mechanisms of constructing borders as softer or harder are pretty much the same in principle, though the local conditions may be different. The idea of “translating, between cultures” (with the accent on the comma) as an open-ended relational and reciprocal gesture of freedom putting into question the “translator” and the “original” itself, will be opposed to the limiting and communalist arrogant idea of a “dialogue between cultures” (translation-as-violation), often proposed by a more or less benevolent multi-culturalist approach. The violence in redrawing boundaries comes from discontinuing communication and exchange (no communication whatsoever implying: war) and from giving up the constant relational dynamic tension maintained in the rapport of translating as an attitude. Such a premature shutting down of alternative histories which is also a linguistic closure means, at the level of languages, pulling away from the diverse, in-communication, constructing un-translatabilities and incomprehension, forcing separation between related idioms: constructing otherhood and striving to expulse it outside the “system”, or outside the “good world”.


1. A version of the present chapter was offered as a paper at the Postgraduate course “FEMINIST CRITICAL ANALYSIS: Boundaries, Borders and Borderlands”, at the Inter-University Centre, Dubrovnik, May 24-29, 2004; It is adapted to a large extent from my « On Permanent Translation (we are in translation) », Transeuropéennes N° 22, 2001-2002, pp. 121 ff. The wording of that part – but not of what was added on subsequent occasions for the present purpose, which is a different one – is by John Doherty who kindly translated that article from the French for the bilingual issue of Transeuropéennes. Another version was given at the Academy of European History, the European University Institute, Florence, on July 10, 2003. Ideas from this text were developed over the following years in much of my writing on translation.
2. Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic, Verso, London – New York 1993.
3. Barbara Cassin, “Untranslatables and their Translations” in Transeuropéennes, September 14, 2009; (ed.) Vocabulaire européen des philosophies. Dictionnaire des intraduisibles, Paris, Seuil-Le Robert, 2004. Etienne Balibar, “Speaking the Universal”, in Transeuropéennes, November 5, 2009.
4. Jean-François Lyotard, Le Différend, Minuit, Paris, 1983.
5. Language and “ready-made thought” offer this cliché of “both ends of the stick” which, inadequately for our quest, suggests a symmetrical and equal relationship. But the “mirror” may be a better metaphor, since its “both sides” are far from equivalent in terms of existential stakes, as Luce Irigaray has demonstrated in Ce sexe qui n’en est pas un, Minuit, Paris 1977, and other writings.
6. Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), The Marginal Nation: Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal, Sage Publications 1999.
7. Veena Das, Critical Events. An Anthropological Perspective in Contemporary India, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1995.
8. See Jean-François Lyotard, L’Inhumain. Causeries sur le temps, Galilée, Paris, 1988.
9. Iveković, Le Sexe de la nation, Léo Scheer, Paris 2003.
10. I would like to thank Veena Das for having directed my mind back to this subject, which we have talked about informally over the years. See Veena Das, « Violence and Translation », and « The practice of organ transplants: networks, documents, translations » in Margaret Lock, Alan Young, Alberto Cambrosio (eds.), Living and Working with the New Medical Technologies. Intersections of Inquiry, Cambridge University Press, pp. 263-287. The text published here is in part a reaction to her ideas and our discussions.
11. J-L. Nancy, L’Intrus, Galilée, Paris 2000; see also the movie 21 Grams, by Alejandro Gonzáles Inárritu, 2002, as well as Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola, 2003.
12. I am aware that a border is a concept related to the establishment of the modern state: that border is much harder. I have enlarged the concept here in order to investigate the limits of other types of borders which i see as different degrees of the same life-and-death process. Within the western context, “life-and-death” (punar-bhava, punar mrtyu; samsāra) are understood as merely “life”, whereby an additional hardening function of the concept of “border” is unnecessarily introduced. Any border is really ineffable.
13. Catherine Malabou, Jacques Derrida, La contre-allée, Ed. La Quinzaine littéraire/Vuitton 1999; Žarana Papić, Polnost i kultura, XX vek, Beograd 1997.
14. Rastko Močnik, “East!”, in New Moment, n° 20, 2002, East Art Map – A Reconstruction of the History of Art in Eastern Europe.
15. This is the real difference between avidyâ and prajñâ.
16. J.-L. Nancy, L’ »il y a » du rapport sexuel, Galilée, Paris, 2001, p. 52. Transl. From the French by John Doherty.
17. Op. cit., p. 17.
18. It is not merely by chance that the relationship of telescoping or confusion between me and the other in mystical love (in Sanskrit, maithuna) implies a going-beyond that is trans-subjectal (and, of course, trans-objectal), but requires also a different type of knowledge, in which « to know » means « to become the other » in a trans-ego and trans-identity jubilation that reveals the weakness of language and the failings of all representation.
19. The Taittirîya Upanišad puts forward, from the Brahmanic viewpoint, the theory of the kośa, or « envelopes » of identity. The inner depths of man, which are both consciousness and knowledge, are identified with the supreme. Between the body and consciousness there is only a difference of degree; each is implicated in the other. Each kośa plays the role of an ultimate horizon of liberation for the previous one, but moves as soon as it is approached, and in both directions. Absolute liberation can be thought of only in relative terms. As we approach the centre of the heart (in yoga terminology, the heart also being the seat of thought) on the road of deliverance, relative subjectivity is progressively dissolved in nothingness, and disappears. The closer we get to the mokša (release), within the « refuge of the heart », the less we can talk about subjectivity, or jîva (the unit of individual life), etc. For the Taittirîya and other Upanišads, see Carlo della Casa, Upanišad, U.T.E.T., 1976, pp. 281-302, or The Principal Upanišads (trans. and ed. S. Radhakrishnan), George Allen and Unwin, London, 1953, pp. 525-565. For a part of the translation, see: « Taittîriya Upanisad », in Le Veda. Premier livre sacré de l’Inde, Vol. 2, ed. Jean Varenne, Marabout Université, Paris, 1967, pp. 670-683. Also: Kausitaki Upanishad, Svetasvatara Upanishad, Prashna Upanishad, Taittiriya Upanishad (trans. L. Renou, A. Silburn, J. Bousquet, Em. Lesimple), one volume, Librairie d’Amérique et d’Orient, Paris, 1978.
20. J.-L. Nancy, L’ »il y a » du rapport sexuel, p. 45-46.
21. See the special issue of Ou. Rifflessioni e Provocazioni, Vol. X, No. 2, 2000 (Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane), Atti del Convegno Invasioni di Filosofia (Cosenza, 20-22 July 2000), ed. F. Dionesalvi and F. Garritano.
22. Alain Brossat, « Métissage culturel, différend et disparition », in Lignes, No. 6, « Identités indécises », October 2001, pp. 28-53.
23. Jean-Luc Nancy, « Eloge de la mélée », in Transeuropéennes, N° 1, Autumn 1993, pp. 8-18.
24. R. Iveković, Autopsia dei Balcani. Saggio di psico-politica, Cortina, Milan, 1999.
25. Veena Das, »Violence and Translation », Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 75, N° 1, Winter 2001, pp. 105-112, or
26. Roberto Esposito, Immunitas, Einaudi, Torino 2002.
27. Slavenka Drakulić, Hologami straha, GZH, Zagreb, 1987, & Holograms of Fear, W.W.W. Norton & Company, 1992. This is a fictionalised narration of a particularly drama-laden kidney transplant.
28. From here on, the text departs from Transeuropéennes 22, 2001-2002.
29. Urvashi Butalia, The Other Side of Silence. Voices from the Partition of India, Viking, New Delhi 1998; Radha Kumar, Divide and Fall? Bosnia in the Annals of Partition, Verso, London 1998; Interventions. International Journal of Post-Colonial Studies, Special Topic: “The Partition of the Indian Sub-Continent”, edited by Ritu Menon, Vol. 1, no. 2, 1999; Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin, Borders & Boundaries. Women in India’ Partition, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1998. Transeuropéennes 19/20, 2001 “Divided Countries, Separated Cities”.
30. Some of the following is adapted from my presentation “Gender and national borders and boundaries. European integration and the ethnicization of the Balkans” at a European University Institute women’s studies course in history, in the summer of 2001.
31. See Transeuropéennes N° 19/20, 2001 (Paris), special cluster on “Divided Countries, Separated Cities”.
32. Goran Fejić, Rada Iveković, “Women and Armed Conflicts” background paper for the UNSRID project “Gender and Conflict”, March 2004.
33. Geneviève Fraisse, Giulia Sissa, Françoise Balibar, Jacqueline Rousseau-Dujardin, Alain Badiou, Monique David-Ménard, Michel Tort, L’exercice du savoir et la différence des sexes, L’Harmattan, Paris 1991.
34. Etienne Balibar, Nous, citoyens d’Europe? Les frontières, l’Etat, le peuple, La découverte, Paris 2001.
35. Colette Guillaumin, Sexe, Race et Pratique du pouvoir. L’idée de Nature, Côté-femmes, Paris 1992.
36. R. Iveković, « Women, Nationalism and War : ‘Make Love Not War’ », Hypatia, Special Cluster on Eastern European Feminism, Vol. 8, N°. 4 (Fall 1993), pp. 113-126; reprinted in: Women’s Studies. Journal for Feminist, « Selected Papers, Anniversary Issue 1992-2002», pp 101-109 ; French version: « Les femmes, le nationalisme et la guerre », Peuples Méditerranéens N° 61 (Yougoslavie. Logiques de l’exclusion), dec.-1992, pp. 185-201. In Serbocroat: Ženske studije (Belgrade), 2-3/1995, pp. 9-23. In Macedonian: « Ženite, nacionalizmot i vojnata », in Lettre internationale 5-6, mart-juni 1997, god.II, Skopje, pp. 131-143
37. Samaddar, Ranabir, Those Accords. A Bunch of Documents, Kathmandu, South Asia Forum for Human Rights, Paper Series 4, 2000.
38. See Malcolm Spencer, “Kulturelle Differenzierung in Musils Roman Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften. Die Stadt B.”, whose presentation at the conference “Postkoloniale” Konflikte im europäischen Kontext (Vienna University, April 14-15, 2004), pushed my reflexion in this direction. The same ideas are confirmed, concerning another example, by the paper by José M. Portillo Valdés, “HOW CAN A MODERN HISTORY OF THE BASQUE COUNTRY MAKE SENSE? On Nation, Identity, and Territories in the Making of Spain

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The Liberal Totalitarian System and Gender. A Politics of Philosophy (Chapter 5/6)

Posté par radaivekovicunblogfr le 13 décembre 2009

Apart fromt the separate presentation on this site of the unpublishd book A politics of philosophy,  the latter starts here from its second chapter. The site is under construction and the chapters too. The first chapter of A Politics of Philosophy will not appear here, as it has been shortened and transformed into a paper for the online journal Transeuropéennes,, where it can be read. That paper is titled “A Politics of Philosophy since Modernity. Indian and Western philosophies”. 

©rada iveković A POLITICS OF PHILOSOPHY 5 The Liberal Totalitarian System and Gender[1] 

As we have entered upon a long term worldwide economically liberal configuration of international relations after the cold war, we seem to witness on the one hand, locally, apparently more and more cultural diversification notwithstanding at the same time a more general uniformisation; and on the other hand, we see, no doubt, more and more uniformity in thinking, in political ideas and projects, to the extent that once opposed systems such as “capitalism” and “socialism” join hands in the new phase of universal capitalism beyond any ideological divides and second thoughts. It is as if any alternatives had disappeared from th political and the social horizon. Once ennemies, the two opposed ideological and political orientations seem not to constitute a dichotomy anymore, and binaries appear elsewhere, in the construction of new “universal” ennemies such as “global Islam”. There is someting totalitarian in this new, triumphant straight “pensee unique”. Some political discourses  and ideological speeches in the global west (and let us be reminded that the west is not located in the west any more) resemble more and more the peremptorious diktat of the One party of yesterday. This is because the spirit of totalitarianism is not linked to such and such an ideology, but is a possibility of many, and is annexed and instrumentalized primarily by a state, a party or a closed community. nIn the present chapter we analyze its intercation with and its dependence on, among othe things, gender relations. Extraordinary, “unexpected” events shape long periods and are crucial turning points in history. In our times, one such turning point is 1989, the end of The Cold War, which makes visible globalization all of a sudden, as if it had not been a long process. Globalization entails both big sweeping uniformization and fragmentation. One turning point from the past still leaves its imprint on us, and it is modernity. It can be described as the time from which continuity has been constructed for the European episteme which, by the same token, has been universalized as Western, while continuity with their own past was interrupted for all other epistemes, if they wanted to access modernity. Modernity was in many ways conditional for them. It was mediated through colonial physical violence, epistemic violence (which is also an aspect of the former), predicated upon conditions concerning both women’s status and the way colonial women are treated by their men within the colonial triangulation etc.  And it was highly symbolically unsettling. 

An aspect of globalisation is thus disintegration. Big and small units traverse each other and resemble twisted projections. Big globalizing features, political and regional unification (for example Europe, ASEAN, ALBA in Latin America) produce at the other end of the scale, locally but in multiple manners, new ways of living through migrant labour and migrant education, and such forms as networks that replicate features of both the local and the global. Disconnection from former affiliation and “belonging” means plugging in into other realities, scales and dimensions and also bridging them. Cultural uniformity (“Coca-Cola”) has as its flipside also great diversity which it introduces within through various types of displacement, shortcuts, synthesis, association, digestion. I shall be interested in the pair – uniformity & diversity – as well as in similar ones, and will call them patterns of the sharing of reason (partage de la raison). Multiculturalism and plurality can be used to enhance real democracy but also to freeze received and closed histories. This is how “identities” are constructed: they freeze one aspect of a situation and give it a name, preferring a particularity to its larger context, dismissed as threatening universality And universality indeed does threaten closed identities since it subsumes them within the hierarchy it represents, through a hegemony it practices. Too much of “cultural” or “ethnic” particularism can be politically as disastrous as none. Let us not forget that culture is also constantly essentialised, that it can work just like a “nature”. Therefore, the concept of multiculturalism doesn’t guarantee getting away from normative identities, quite apart from the fact that it has occasionally – apparently paradoxically – been associated with communalism or with communitarian theoreticians’ politics.  The underlying condition for any of these options is reason and the trust we have in rationality. But is reason reasonable? We eventually need to be wary of the self-motivation of reason itself, and recognise that it operates through a dynamics of dichotomy: reason is usually opposed to the irrational, to the animal etc. It is easily attributed the form of the feminine, of the colonized, and of the regular figure of the underdog. We may best be guided by moderation, but we should pay attention, theoretically, to the partage de la raison, the splitting/sharing of reason. There is some salutary ambiguity in the terms sharing and partage. Our body-and-reason (nāma-rūpa) is an existential paradox, in that we are traversed by differences many of which appear as binaries (for ex. gender), and in that we are at the same time historic and transcendent beings. Historic and limited as individuals, but transcendent as humankind. This existential paradox, the fact of the trembling, ever-vacillating and uncertain identity to ourselves which always uncovers an inadequacy, should never be allowed to be reduced to an “essence”: the difference runs between the vital and thought-producing sharing/division of reason (partage de la raison) as a dynamics, a movement and displacement, – and the lethal, closed, clichés of reason irreparably split (raison partagée). Not all partage is life-halting, or else, it is not to be feared when it means sharing with another, only when it is a definitive shutting down and division without any flexibility. Partage as opening, sharing and displacement is life itself. As closure, it is death, but also death as a moment in the life process. Since each of us individually and all of us in common are at stake in this process of sharing or joining up reason, we are necessarily in a permanent process of translation. Not merely textual translation, but rather inter-contextual: the translator being translated by her own translation. A balance between the extremes of too much and too little cultural diversity means accepting to be put into question by the translation even as we engage in it. Reason is best when shared (joined in with others), or, to be more precise, no-one has access to reason as totality: as a matter of fact, there is no such thing as the whole of Reason, or Reason as a whole, or the Totality of reason. Though there are cases of such pretence, and we have recently been through periods of such historic claims of reason as a whole in different fundamentalist ideologies, be they political or religious. Reason is patched up of bits and pieces that may be disconnected and reside at many different addresses. It is always partial, in all senses. It really has to be shared, being shared is its best way of being. Trying to isolate, cut or localise it (the other meaning of partage, sharing), trying to tie it down at a particular spot, limits it necessarily and is therefore violent as a move. But since sharing means both – splitting or separating as well as sharing – there are situations of temporary undecidability which are the possibility though not fatality of extreme brutality or of physical violence. Such situations can be described, at the level of individual or even collective subjectivity – in another key -, as a void of the subject, an absence of agency; as being de-empowered, or as an impasse, passivity of citizenship. Klaus Theweleit describes such conditions as situations of the Noch-nicht-geborene, the violent individual who hasn’t been constructed as a responsible and sharing subject (who, in our terms, would be rather splitting than sharing), and takes them to be emblematic of fascism.[2] The would-be subject then “compensates” for the lack of subjectivity through violence to others in collective action (many a nation has been constructed in this way) or, more seldom, through violence to oneself. This happens differently when it comes to collectivity – because the non-emergence of individual subjectivity or agency may be due to the communalist, communitarian subjugation of the individual. At the social level, such ambiguous situations are described as profound political and social crises that threaten with always possible yet not fatal civil war, riots etc. In such a crisis situation, called palanka by the philosopher Radomir Konstantinović, violence is possible and virtual, though not necessarily actual, yet it really threatens: translated by “bourg” in French, palanka is the term used by Konstantinović[3] to denote a state of mind and a social, historic situation that is an in-between. It describes a period of an indefinable crisis (of modernity), an immaterialisable (“irréalisable”) state (hence the violence) that is the possibility of all possibilities. A limbo of bottomless inscrutable danger. It may explode as violence, but needn’t. It is the state of mind where life comes short of life itself, where one is no master of one’s destiny. The author makes a concept and a philosophical term out of it. In ordinary language, palanka denotes however a mentally provincial (sub-)urban agglomeration, neither town nor village. While reading Konstantinović, the historian
Daho Djerbal recognized in the palanka the mental horizon of contemporary Algeria torn by the failure of its transition to modernity, and he quotes him in the issue on the “aesthetics of crisis” of the journal Naqd:
“ […] It is here that we can verify the need of a theatre as entertainment. But this theatre is planted in the midst of life itself and not separated from it, not even through the trade of an actor, and nobody can escape such fate. In addition to the need for a living theatre or, precisely and in a way more fatally tragic of this necessity of showing life without any acting, as theatre, and of  introducing within the fatal spirit of the ‘bourg’ at least some simulation of life if not life itself…”

Avoiding such possible & threatening brutality implies a reshuffling of the hitherto dominant concept of universal and of its relationship to the particular. Within a configuration of the universal seen as a negotiated and living rapport rather than as the supreme office, the autonomy of the subject is complex, relational  and relative, and regularly double-bound or tied from several sides. Even as a relationship, the universal rewards by confirming the like (that which resembles it) as the majority or as the prevailing group. The “minority” (the “particular”) then has little autonomy besides the purely formal one, though it may give some hint at de-identification and may resist and negotiate. But clearly, it is now the leading subject that will have to de-identify for the move to be really effective: it is a matter of displacement, and displacement seen as salutary. In other words, the subject has to give up some of its authority and normativity in order to share it. It is still rewarded, even through sharing, but at least the move is not unidirectional. I am here pleading for de-identification, as the too oft neglected complementary side to any identification. Another way of putting it is this: there are no cultural differences, no sexes or genders outside the community, or apart from/without language. And there is also no violence outside (the constitution of) the community and apart from communicating through language. Differences, violence, take place in community and within language. In the refusal of jouissance, however, dictated by the community,[5] which describes the situation of palanka (a depoliticised society), brutality and indifference unveil an incapacity for desire and a failed, profoundly divided subject. The split subject usually corresponds to a split society and a split nation. The universe of a general de-investment of citizenship is also one of a terrible demobilisation of desire. Here, the ever new forms of partition, of political and emotional demobilisation, and of division are projected on, identified with, and made to be supported by the founding rift of reason (which they reinforce), from which they gather their further divisive, normative and excluding efficiency. This is why it is also absolutely crucial to be thinking the new political subjects, those that outgrow both the reductive language of citizenship, as well as the depoliticised conceptualisation of governmentality.[6] We must rethink the theory-praxis gap (another example of reason split) and go, today more than ever since we are at the turning point of the geopolitical face of the planet being redrawn, towards political, cultural and social movements. And towards identifying new agencies. The patient construction of a new epistemological apparatus should give us instruments to understand and accompany new political subjectivity. 

The world has been tremendously reshaped, and we have not developed conceptual instruments to understand it fully yet, because our cognitive apparatus was shaped over the 20th century and partly even earlier. For the same reason, we don’t have proper instruments of resistance, and we don’t know yet who the agents of this resistance to the new “liberal totalitarian system” we are in might be.[7] With the end of the cold war, the partition of the world has come to an end first by a one-sided one imperial-like state closure which precludes from decisive international action most countries. This is an example of reason split, reason all lumped on one side, with the idea that only “we” have truth, and therefore “we” rightly fight the Evil (Saddam Hussein and the rest of the world; strangely enough, president Obama too, in his Oslo speech in 2009, asserted that there is evil in the world while justifying his war in receiving the Nobel prize for – peace). And in that “we” are self-legitimated, or legitimated by the UN and international organizations when needed, however reluctantly and nostalgically of non-aligned memories. This situation has imposed a complete separation between popular will and leadership, and in many places hypnotised disoriented people. A world-wide one-party system is being imposed. The “axes of Evil”, if anything, was a religious and an aggressive fundamentalist idea. We were thus reminded that religion has been  actually part of the American state-building and power history from the very beginning[8], and is being spread abroad too.  Evil is of course identified as irrationality, and in the one-dimensionality of the new construction it is forgotten that Reason produces its own flip-side as constitutive of it. Only, the two are not representable together any more, so any sharing of the same scene is out of the question. Off goes the irrational, or Evil, or
Iraq, into disappearance. The one-sidedness of Reason, the impossibility to evaluate it because only one partner “is right” (a case of what the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard called the différend), pre-emptive war, are reason split and not shared.
Jean Baudrillard warns : « Cette dissuasion sans guerre froide, cette terreur sans équilibre, cette prévention implacable sous le signe de la sécurité va devenir une stratégie planétaire.»[9]  He calls “contraception” the pre-emptive character of the war, which is anticipated to the extent that it need not happen and which ousts the original event. Yes we have entered a “contraceptive era” in several regards, not only the one Baudrillard describes, but also in the sense of emotions, judgement and enjoyment being sterilized through pre-emptive treatment and the neutralisation of differences (which amounts to terror), since the other is no longer imaginable. It is an illusion that the other can be relegated outside the system, though this may be claimed by theoreticians of two levels of exclusion (ordinary an absolute): the system will still be built on exclusion, though forbidden or unmentionable. During cold war we at least had a representation of the dichotomy (and thus of a principled plurality), although it was made extremely rigid and didn’t develop at the international level – into softer relations. But when there is no possible representation of anything any more due to the “one truth” dogma, then, Baudrillard says rightly, sovereignty can’t be based on it any longer. The regime then turns against its own population, and eventually becomes suicidal. Since it decides about Truth, it needn’t heed anything, and it may not only bomb civilians, but also burn libraries. Indeed, the Baghdad library was bombed and burned, and the museum allowed to be looted. The Sarajevo library too had been bombed. It is to be noted that a philosopher like
Ernesto Laclau, even before these events, distinguished between two types of exclusion, one absolute (irrepresentability), the other relative, which is also space for the political
The split of reason is dangerous in this hasty coming to a stop of any  movement, disappearance of any ambiguity, of the plurality of meaning. The cold war, which ended abruptly, was itself a world-wide state of palanka of sorts. Sharing reason here (and keeping it as a constant dynamics) would have meant, on the contrary, that no-one is completely right or completely wrong, and that the two sides have to cooperate, share, de—identify and give in to the other in a delicate and intelligent equilibrium. But we don’t see this happening. It is true that the cold war had not in itself developed features of flexibility or sharing, only two rigid blocs. One side in the game “represented” plurality and democracy in its own eyes (capitalism), while the other side (communism), was roughly put in charge of totalitarianism and of a one-party system. Well, the “one party system”, totalitarianism, have now in some regards been “universalised” and passed on to the other side. This other triumphant side is now the absolute, last truth, the truth of liberalism. Democracy under condition (under the condition of liberalism, of factual inequality and only principled equality of chances based on individual and private economic motives) – is no democracy. At the same time as this happened, the European Union was being reshuffled; the 15 have become 27. It is far from clear where this geopolitical reconstitution and refoundation is heading. 

In his Dreams of the Colonised,
Ranabir Samaddar analyses very subtly the cleavage between political dreams and their realisation. The latter usually limit the political imagination from the first. “Dreams” are indeed those desires which are neither expressed nor taken into account in conclusive Realpolitk or even in research. The split really runs between dreams of freedom and independence accomplished. But this finding doesn’t compel Samaddar to a purely meditative dimension (although…). On the contrary, it makes him expose the involvement of the historian, of the philosopher, of the scholar, as well as the partiality of the method and instruments in following the studied event, and reminds of the responsibility in reading. It is here that the possible political imagination is situated, the one of which the future will be made. This political imagination stems from an open reading of the past event, of alternative histories, open for and towards the future (which means: with multiple and alternative scenarios as much for the past as for the future). Such reading is necessary, we deduce from Samaddar, in order to understand new hybridities and alternative modernities, or non-Western modernities (for Gramsci, referring to Italy in his time, they had been the southern ones). It is necessary to have some political imagination in order to “translate” from one episteme, or from one jargon, into another, from “Indian” to “Western” philosophy or from “meditative” to political philosophy for that matter. 
The question is also what should be the praxis to improve freedom in the contemporary context, knowing that it consists of both an individual and a collective component, and that these two have to be mutually articulated in such a way that collective interests do not erase individual ones, but that individual ones do not lead to solipsism? This is of course the question of democracy which has always been only a project (never an accomplished or a satisfactorily accomplished fact), and which even as such has never been meant to apply to all: “democracy” is itself flawed and constructed on a system of exceptions. But exception allows for sovereignty. Philosophically speaking, this is again a case of the split of reason, of which the gender divide is only one example, though fundamental. Practically speaking, it is a matter of reciprocity, of de-identification (with one’s group), of empathy, of accepting the fact that we are born(e) of/by others. 

There is no difference of principle between gender and other similar divides, as all inequalities are historically constructed. But gender, in addition to profoundly determining subjectivity, takes the pretext of “sexual difference” claiming nature or an essence to justify social, political, economic, cultural inequalities through analogy with an imaginary “natural” inequality, especially in anything having to do with most aspects of public power. Gender (“sexual” social inequality) is the first and the most explicit expression of the « sharing/splitting of reason » ( partage de la raison). The latter lies at the basis of any other dichotomy (and hierarchy, inequality etc.) as a general mechanism and as « primordial », not just of the sexual one. “Sexual” inequality comes in as instrumental to all other forms of discrimination, as the most widely accepted one that works « by analogy » in all other matters too, and that gives its image to all cases. Splitting (with the possibility of sharing) [of  reason] comes first as the mere logic, as the way of functioning of reason, and it is not fundamentally defined by sexual difference. Rather, sexuating everything else is essentially instrumental in achieving sameness, and therefore the sex/gender inequality is so important and civilisationally widespread – quite beyond the scope of subduing women only. “The distance from the beginning is a distance from birth, an effort to efface it by monadic foundationalism, to claim it through paternity and nationalism, or to violently control it through fundamentalism.  The violence of foundation and the violence that the desire for foundation evinces is a violence that is necessarily animated by sexual energies, but more profoundly, by the energy of the dynamic dichotomy itself. The violence is then the desperate inverted mime of that foundational power – two foundations, two origins, one the violence of creative difference, the other the violence of destructive sameness.” (Roger Friedland[11])   “Nation”, claiming a common origin in an imaginary common birth, resorts to constructing a posteriori this origin as as real as if it had always been. For this, it needs the previous general acceptance of the inferiority of women (and the complicity of patriarchy). But both the gender divide, as well as the exclusion on which the nation is established, though mutually and causally intertwined, are expressions of the same and universal « sharing/splitting of reason » (partage de la raison). Both claim “nature” and essentialise the inequality as natural. 

We may well continue to be surprised by the perseverance of the sex/gender discrimination throughout the world, unless we analyse its link to other types of inequality and injustice among humans: this is because the real inequality of sexes, first “naturalised” in order to be globally accepted within a patriarchal regime to start with, is subsequently made into a complicit instrument of the maintenance of all other known hierarchies. It is inbuilt in them.  This happens through the symbolic regime which “feminises” in each of them the weaker term. The “sex war” (or “gender war”) should not be understood as primordial or paradigmatic for other conflicts. There is no such thing as a sex war, though there is a notion, linked to a myth, a “preventive” patriarchal myth like the one on “matriarchy”. But it is true that in any conflict and violence, we find the analogy of sexes as supporting them. In a general way, it is all about the « partage de la raison »[12] which, rather than being itself « sexuated » (or gendered) – manages on the contrary to « sexuate » (to gender) any difference that it is about to transform into a hierarchy. In this sense, the “sexuation”, which is also a naturalisation or an essentialisation, is principally an instrumentalisation for the purpose of appropriation and of the reproduction of the identical and of the same power-relations. This instrumentalisation explains the perseverance with which the inequality of the sexes is maintained although it is only one of the expressions of the splitting and possible sharing of reason. It is fundamental only inasmuch it is instrumental in maintaining other inequalities and injustices, but it is then also in its turn re-enforced through this instrumentality. Sexuality translated into social hierarchy traverses of course the construction of any type of “identity”, in the sense that indeed the distance from the claimed « origin » is necessarily the distance from birth (which is so explicit in the term « nation » itself). But this distancing from an origin is also (patriarchal)  culture itself[13], followed in and by culture through the endeavour to erase alterity in oneself (or: to erase what we owe the other in our own constitution) through a self-asserting “fundamentalism” at the exclusion of others. 

Therefore, violence would somehow have its origin in the cultural gesture of refusing the fact that life itself is always owed to the other, and it would be a desperate attempt to re-establish the imaginary auto-foundation of the self (l’auto-fondation du propre) and a vain effort towards self-generation.[14] In this sense generation, which is at the basis of the idea of nation, conceived only as self-generation, is also potentially (virtually) violent to others and derivatively suicidal. Which, by the way, necessarily means also – self-curbed.[15]
Roberto Esposito writes the following about this mechanism, and the “medical” language makes it even more striking: “Un impulso autodissolutivo che sembra trovare riscontro piú che metaforico in quelle malattie, dette appunto autoimmuni, in cui il potenziale bellico del sistema immunitario è talmente elevato da rivolgersi ad un certo punto contro se stesso in una catastrofe, simbolica e reale, che determina l’implosione dell’intero mecanismo.”
It is this deep role of sexuality in the constitution of identities that strikes back at us nowadays. At the time when redefinitions of the nation and of the nation-state are assailing us at the end of an era and the beginning of another one of which we can yet hardly discern the contours in international politics, it is necessary to re-examine the national difference where it intersects with the gender one, because we can clearly see that a crucial knot is there. The deconstruction of sexuated identities (and all are sexuated, but the nation is so even explicitly and maybe even more rigidly than any other) is doubly important, not only with a view to deconstructing the mechanisms of sexism, but moreover with a view to undoing the exclusions and inequalities in all other cases too. Here, like elsewhere, it is salutary to « de-identify” rather than to maintain rigid identity roles. The role played by gender in the construction of other identities but also, by extension, in the setting up of all institutions (from language to the state), is incalculable. Yet it is generally acknowledged only as potentially subversive, rarely as constructive, as that which opposes institutionalisation through the state, the establishment, the army, and through recognised movements or winning historic action. Its positive and inevitable contribution to constructing institutions is not generally considered. Through its marking the nation and the state – a main feature in the organisation of international relations – gender clearly traverses, informs, organises and shapes all activity, institutions, relations as well as minds. The tangle of gender and nation projects its shade onto all other organisational forms, hence its importance. Gender is and will be a living and constant constituting power in shaping anything human, and this role may not be dismissed. It has been used as an instrument, and can be used as an instrument, for the better or the worse. This is why it is invited to play a role in reshaping our future too. Yet it doesn’t do so in the manner of a sealed destiny, and here lies a possibility for action, as well as a chance for theory. The combine promises of gender and irreducibly plural, multiple, interactive sexual “identities” are the scope for social and political plurality. When ignored as a constituting cultural and symbolic element, the component of gender works for inequality, hierarchy, exclusion, violence and discrimination in all other matters too, not only against women and children. But when used with an understanding critical approach (by which it is clear that nothing human is neutral, and nothing is sexually (genderwise) neutral), gender becomes a precious arm to fight all sorts of repression. Feminist theory is here at the centre of all theory as that which can offer directions to a major epistemological problem : how to improve and develop a conceptual framework, an episteme or a paradigm, or how to work out a new epistemological paradigm since the old one has proved incapable of both – grasping the world as well as avoiding war, brutality and exploitation and supporting resistance. 

Political and economic institutions in backward countries, says Gramsci, are not conceived like historic categories, but rather like “natural, perpetual and irreducible”.[17] In this they are naturalised and essentialised, and made into instruments of domination, let’s add, comparable to patriarchy. « E lo stato moderno ne ha rispettato l’essenza feodale », says Gramsci : indeed, this is how modernity, just as in colonised countries, produces « tradition » and fertile soil for conflict. It is important to grasp the usage of the division of reason here: modernity for us, tradition for you or, as Samaddar says, “the nation for us, ethnicity for you”. And as also Subaltern scholars notice too, but here according to Gramsci, « il contadino è vissuto sempre fuori dal dominio della legge, senza personalità giuridica, senza individualità morale : è rimasto un elemento anarchico, l’atomo indipendente di un tumulto caotico, infrenato solo dalla paura del carabiniere e del diavolo [18] In order to be able to avoid the split in yet another important field, it is necessary to recognise the link between religion and politics, and particularly the theological origin of state secularism (and of laïcité) inasmuch they are the secularisation of a divine concept sovereignty itself[19]: “Sovereignty as the creation of law, i.e. its non-legal origin, and the law as a legitimating a posteriori of the illegality that constituted it: the law of exception.”[20] This analysis allows us to better understand why « laicisation” doesn’t always give the expected results: whereas universal projects (such as the “republic”, “democracy”) have been delegitimised with utopias (generally speaking, it is thought that the “end of master discourses”, the end of hope in a transcendence or of awaiting a universal solution /or one through the universal/ is also the end of utopia), particularistic (communitarian) claims are more and more insistent and are supported by the general condescendence to cultural, religious etc. essentialisms. It is here that identitarian excesses and misunderstandings arise such as the one regarding the “Islamic veil” in a country like France, or the constructed problem of the minarets in Switzerland in 2009. This is because “long live the difference!” is a slogan that can be pressed both by racists and antiracists, for opposed reasons. 

The origin of the misunderstanding lies in a bad negotiation of the relationship between the universal and the particular, and not at all in the particular (culture, religion) itself. The revival of religion or the appearance of fundamentalist orientations today has nothing to do with religion itself, but constitute attempts to conquer a protagonist position in political or social matters for the young and for populations that are generally deprived and excluded from active political agency and from effective, meaningful citizenship. This is true of Europe, where active citizenship is fast fading away and where an important part of the economically active population is more and more often without political rights because it is foreign. But it is true of other parts of the world too, where war, hunger, big migrations and the new general geopolitical international configuration is such that not only individual autonomy, but also state sovereignty of individual states is rapidly loosing meaning or at least changing its functionality.  Some expressions of particularism take the shape or pretext of religion and exasperate religious « identitarianism ». The latter is particularly easy to mobilise in a crisis, and thus particularly worrying. This is true of the mentioned fundamentalisms (perceptible in all religions), though their nature is not different from that of other particularistic expressions with a universalising aspiration. The war declared to terrorism on the part of the ”international community” since September 2001 made this point particularly sensitive. The analysis shows how
Third World fundamentalisms are usually an extension of a historic reaction to colonial and imperialistic humiliation as well as to post-colonial failures. But it also shows, on the other side and under other historical circumstances, since the Christian Crusaders , how fundamentalism can itself also be a conquering movement. That which then opposes institutionalisation through the state, armed forces, recognised movements or appropriating action will be disqualified as terrorism and countered at the level of state(s) and, today, by the international community. (Terrorism is generally defined by a state.) It is good to know, however, that each mono-cultural, mono-religious identification consists in a complementary quantity of salutary de-identifications, those that belong to alternative (hi)stories as opposed to received and official history (and to received truth). Those alternative histories
[21]  should be liberated, liberating thereby political imagination. 

[1] A first version of this paper was presented at the conference « Cultural Diversity, Globalisation & Globalisations », organized by François de Bernard, Groupe de recherche sur les mondialisations in Paris, June 4-6, 2003. Some of these ideas have also gone into several other papers such as “The Watershed of Modernity. Translation and the Epistemological Revolution in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, n. ?, 2010; “Towards an epistemological revolution. Reason split. Subjectivity, translation and modernities”  forthcoming in the publication of the conference “Biopolitics, Ethics and Subjctivation: Questions on Modernity”, Chaio Tung University 2009, Taiwan, and “A Politics of Philosophy since Modernity. Indian and Western philosophies », published in, 2009. 

[2] Männerphantasien 1-2, Verlag Roter Stern, Frankfurt am Main 1977, 1978. See also Julia Kristeva, Pouvoirs de l’horreur. Essai sur l’abjection, Seuil, Paris 1981, for the comparable concept of abjet. 

[3] « Sur le style du bourg », from the book Filozofija palanke (The philosophy of the palanka), Nolit, Belgrade 1981 (first ed. 1969), in Transeuropéennes 21, 2001, pp. 129-139. « Sur le nazisme serbe », from the same book, in Lignes 06, 2001, pp. 53-75. See also R. Iveković, « La mort de Descartes et la désolation du bourg (R. Konstantinović) » in Transeuropéennes 21, 2001, pp. 174-178. 

Daho Djerbal et Nadira Laggoune-Alkouche, « Présentation », Naqd. Revue d’études et de critique sociale, n.
17, automne/hiver 2002, p. 8 ; translated by me [R.I.] from the French.

Fabio Ciaramelli, La distruzione del desiderio. Il narcisismo nell’epoca del consumo di massa, Dedalo, Bari 2000 ; Radomir Konstantinović, Filozofija palanke, cit. ; Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, De la communauté virtuelle, sense & tonka, Paris 2002.

Ranabir Samaddar, “Dreams of the Colonised”, manuscript; by the same author: “The Last Hurrah that Continues”, in Transeuropéennes 19/20, 2001, pp. 31-49; “The Destiny of a Translated Constitutional Culture”, in Transeuropéennes 22, 2002, pp. 75-87;  “Utopia and Politics in Muslim Bengal”, in Transeuropéennes 23, 2003, pp. 193-219. 

[7] The « multitudes », according to M. Hardt/T. Negri, Empire, Ed. Exils, Paris 2000.

[8] Martin Amis, «Bush contre Saddam : le choc des délires», le Monde 8 mars 2003, p.14 ; Peter Sloterdijk, Si l’Europe s’éveille, Mille et une nuits , Paris 2003.

[9] «Le masque de la guerre», Libération, lundi 10 mars 2003. 

[10] Laclau, Emancipation(s), Verso 1996. 

[11] I owe to
Roger Friedland the last three sentences, in an e-mail where he summed-up my own argument better than i could in English.  See:
Roger Friedland, « Money, Sex and God. The Erotic Logic of  Religious Nationalism”, in Sociological Theory 20:3  November 2002, pp. 203, p. 418, 419. 

[12] Rada Iveković, Le sexe de la nation (Léo Scheer, Paris 2003). 

Fethi Benslama, Une fiction troublante. De l’origine en partage, eds. de l’aube 1994 ; La psychanalyse à l’épreuve de l’Islam, Ed. Aubier, Paris, 2002. 

[14] Rada Iveković, Le sexe de la nation, Léo Scheer, Paris 2003. 

[15] In « Civilisation de la mort », in Migrations littéraires  21, été 1992, pp. 42-60 , I wrote about civilisations established upon life-sacrifice :  « le sacrifice sera (…) toujours présenté symboliquement comme le sacrifice de nous-même, dans lequel se cachera le sacrifice réel de l’Autre, des autres ».
Roberto Esposito, Immunitas. Protezione e negazione della vita, Einaudi, Torino 2002.

[16]  Immunitas, p. 21.

[17] La questione meridionale. Alcuni temi sulla questione merridionale, 1926, ER, Roma 1972, p. 73 p. 64.

[18] ibid, p. 64-65. 

Roberto Esposito, Communitas. Origine e destino della comunità, Einaudi, Torino 1998 ; Immunitas, cit.; Rajeev Bhargava (ed.), Secularism and Its Critics, OUP India, Delhi 1998;
Carl Schmitt, Le Léviathan dans la doctrine de l’Etat de Thomas Hobbes. Sens et échec d’un symbole politique, traduit de l’allemand par Denis Tirerweiler, préface d’
Etienne Balibar, Seuil, Paris 2002 ;
Giorgio Agamben,  Homo sacer, traduit par Marlène Raiola, Seuil, Paris 2002. 

Roberto Esposito, Immunitas, p. 86. 

[21] Walter Benjamin ;
Ranabir Samaddar

Publié dans Chapitre, Livre | Commentaires fermés

GENDER AND TRANSITION. A Politics of Philosophy (Chapter 4/6)

Posté par radaivekovicunblogfr le 24 novembre 2009

Apart fromt the separate presentation on this site of the unpublishd book A politics of philosophy,  the latter starts here from its second chapter. The site is under construction and the chapters too. The first chapter of A Politics of Philosophy will not appear here, as it has been shortened and transformed into a paper for the online journal Transeuropéennes,, where it can be read. That paper is titled “A Politics of Philosophy since Modernity. Indian and Western philosophies”. 

©rada iveković 


In the following chapter, i shall start by describing (though in a loose way) transition, comparing post-colonial and post-socialist transition. Then i shall proceed by analyzing the intersection of nation and gender[2], important for my topic because i am talking of transition today, within globalization, the other end of which are fragmentations along “ethnic” national lines. I shall further investigate the importance of the threshold of 1989 and especially of its meaning for the making of Europe. Finally, and this is my main point, i shall expose my understanding of world cycles and their connection to different types of patriarchies. Thereafter, the different occurrences of negotiating gender relationships are the practical examples that should be given in order to illustrate my point. But these i have developed at length in my books on nation and gender, and i can only briefly mention them here. “Transition” is a word which has come back into usage after the dismantlement of the Berlin Wall, to denote what has usually been understood as post-communist transition. Before that, i believe the term was first used to denote Latin-American transitions from dictatorships to democracy. It is not a well defined term, and it usually comprises some amount of triumphalism of western capitalism-restoration. We had better speak of the European integration within the context of globalization, than only of post-communist transition which is indeed a limiting term for several reasons. It is limiting not only because the Wall fell on both sides and not merely one – (which is particularly visible 20 hears after), because the whole Cold War dichotomy East/West, Communism/Capitalism received a blow and because it is not as if Communism alone had failed: the system of the communicating vessels and equilibrium between the two camps broke down.  The term of transition is also limiting because the integration of Europe has its own larger framework which is “globalization” as a whole, both the one of Davos and the one of Porto Alegre in 2001, both the one precipitated by the end of the Cold War as well as that of the postcolonial condition. My work on post-colonialism in some countries, on the partition of the Indian sub-continent and on partitions compared, has convinced me that post-colonial transition resembles “post-communist” transition to some extent, or that what we have in some countries of the Balkans and in Eastern Europe, if not in all, looks more and more like the difficult recent development of the 3rd world. THE TWO TRANSITIONS 

Where and how do the two transitions compare?  They do so precisely after the Cold War which is not only a European phenomenon and demarcation (the Cold War was much more acute and not so “cold” in the third world). The end of the Cold War coincides in the form & also structurally with a new geopolitical, economic configuration of globalized neo-liberalism, which makes it difficult for developing countries of the 3rd world as much as for some of the former socialist countries to catch up (since that is what is now expected).
Europe is being constructed with that objective in view. The new resemblance of post-socialist transition is not with the first phase of post-colonialism, where nationalism was the agent of liberation and was legitimated after World War II, all through the sixties down to the same dividing line of more or less 1989 which was also decisive for
Europe. Post-socialism too involves nationalism, but of another kind than the postcolonial one, although the latter is often cited an example. Greater integration movements (
Europe) and globalization at one end produce more and more disintegration, ethnicization, identitarian fundamentalism etc. at the other end. This is where there is a striking similarity between, for example, inner processes in Guatemala today and tensions or war and violence within or among some ethnocracies we know in Eastern Europe. At the same time, the identitarian drives in the same Guatemala – which received a new impetus – were not really an issue during the previous 36 year of civil war, and have appeared since the reintegration of Guatemala into the international community. It is as if globalization brought about, in different parts of the world, differentiating nationalisms and ethnicization. Before this last phase of globalization which dictates a new ethnicized discourse and processes of socio-political communal fragmentation all over the world, conflicts in Guatemala and in Central and Latin America were expressed in terms of class, economic inequality, conflict about land etc. Not that the conflicts have in themselves all of a sudden become ethnic- World War II was after all also an “ethnic war” going by our new vocabulary, but that is not what it was called. But the frame mind and the terminology have changed with globalization. The Cold War period was a period of extreme state and military violence by the state and the army, and, in
Guatemala, really a civil war directed against the population as a whole. This is certainly not comparable to the history of socialist countries (though post-colonial history in de-colonized countries is), but the aftermaths are very much comparable – due to a new uniformization. The Cold War was also a strict division of two blocks. The new world configuration since the end of the Cold War now favours major planetary  integrations of capital,  accompanied by a fragmentation on the local, social and geopolitical levels.  Likewise in
India, anti-colonial liberation nationalism legitimized a secular nation-building project. With its erosion which is globally contemporary with the end of the Cold War and locally with the liberalization of the economy by the state, various ethnic, communal, religious and sometimes fundamentalist projects have emerged. They are of a similar topology as those created in Europe (including
Western Europe, where particularisms have not always been integrated through happy regional and trans-national adjustment). Most European countries too have some such examples, and Italy is remarkable for it[3].    Not all of these phenomena can be attributed to “post-communism” or follow from communism. Specific forms of post-communist nationalism exist, but they are generally functional to “capitalist restoration” and vary greatly, discouraging any stereotype and encouraging comparison. What is now called “communism” was not another planet, just a specific form of modernity, like “capitalism”, or the latter’s “other”. The two together were a system and one was function of the other. The complementarity is extended and goes on after the Cold War. We must not lose sight of a wider and dubious integration quite beyond Europe, namely, globalization. 

 The divide after World War II – comparing (A) and (B) runs somewhat as follows. (A) is here “East” Europe (in my example and experience, mainly Yugoslavia) and (B) represents post-colonial countries (in my example mainly India; the case of my other example, Guatemala, is different). 

> There is a 1st PHASE of slow transition or adjustments before 1989, where socialism (A) & post-colonialism (B) have corresponding features; the Cold War will end in partitions for some. There are distinct cases:  The case of real socialism (with significant differences between, say, USSR and
Yugoslavia. Surely, over the following period countries such as Poland, Czechoslovakia or
Hungary escaped the fate of the former, in terms of violence, much to their advantage). This period of consolidation of the Party-state ends in partition (Yugoslavia, USSR, and Czechoslovakia).
  Countries of the third world  like Guatemala, on the other hand, have enjoyed no liberation but a most brutal repression during the Cold War period (they were within the US sphere of interest), and a social segregation, if not partition.  The case of post-colonial countries (B): partition happens at the beginning of this first phase of independence and is covered by the official image of the anti-colonial revolution (there are correspondences to the socialist revolution in the way these two events are « foundational »); it is the first post-colonial period of the Nehruvian secularist project, the consolidation of the secular centralized state. In both cases, – socialism (A) and post-colonialism (B) in the 1st phase – we have to do with forms of modernity, but the first phase (« unconscious », but « happy », or happy because unconscious) – ends up among other things due to lack of real democratisation, as the 

> 2nd PHASE of the post-Cold War starting in 1989, where post-socialism and post-colonialism have corresponding features in further  fragmentation, nationalisms, religious fundamentalisms etc., and the oligarchies of both try to preserve/reshuffle themselves and to negotiate new hegemonies; in some cases, old elites become new elites under new labels, and grab much of the country’s wealth, all of it within a new world-wide globalisation process which now has at one end globalizing integrations, and at the other end  identitarian fragmentations (which are really two sides of the same). This is roughly 1989, a threshold never as sharp when it comes to post-colonialism as it was for socialism, but 1989 certainly is the beginning of neo-liberalisation in economic terms in many countries such as India, China, some countries in Latin America, and announces such big turning points as the deracialisation of political and administrative life in South Africa. a) As for post-socialism (A), here partition happens at the beginning of the second phase, which is also the de-legitimating of the socialist project, of the personal charisma of antifascist or post WW II leaders and of the governments in place; post-socialism (A) at first has ethnocracies, and “centre” or rightist groups in power; first period of the post-partition effects, violence, wars, consolidation of the ethnocracies. This period can’t really be compared to some “de-colonization” from socialism, though there have been attempts to do so. Among other things, because socialism subsidized underdeveloped regions[4]

b) Erosion of the secular nation-project, post-colonialism (B) is shaken by severe identitarian movements (nationalisms etc.) and/or has ethnocracies too. The erosion of the secular project here corresponds to the erosion of the socialist project there. The effects of the time-bomb of the multiple and scaled partition in
India multiply on the inner level, and continue on the regional-international one.
Further “ethnicization”. After this period, countries of the third world such as
Guatemala enter directly the “2nd phase”, i.e. a time of further ethnicization which is the dynamics of globalization. Claims for ethnic recognition are now fitted into a project of human rights and (liberal) democracy formally everywhere, but really emphatically so in areas of the third world and of the former eastern bloc. It is the former west who acts as the neutral advice givers in this to countries of the former eastern bloc and of the third world. Democracy enforcement by war is part of this picture. 
All these mechanisms in former east-European and third world countries can therefore profitably be compared: there is gradual convergence of the two, and the erasure of inner differences between them. 

Observing the countries of the former Yugoslavia as they are today[5], in a form which one knows to be transitory, cannot but leave one skeptical. No exaggerated euphoria seems today possible over ethnocracies, over countries where the “de-nazification” after the bloody wars of the nineties has not yet been achieved or is not even aimed at[6], or over some of those pseudo-statal entities. At the same time, like in the eastern bloc, of which Yugoslavia was not part, pragmatic pro-european policies have helped defuse the nationalistic drive to some extent. Considering that nations are by definition incomplete and unstable forms, non-identical to themselves in their search for their own identity, one must admit that it will take at least some decades for the area to geopolitically  take shape and to heal the wounds of the past protracted violence. This will probably happen through european integration and local NATO dreams, regardless of the fact that these create new borders. That settlement will take place as
Europe itself takes contour. But
Europe is built of the same material, over the same setup and in the same way as its periphery, with the only difference that the process is more violent at the margins. So, although there is no alternative to Europe and although it is an on-going process, no excessive euphoria over
Europe the way it is being constructed seems possible. As the Cambodian ship “East-Sea” with an evaporated Greek or Turkish crew and with 1000 Kurdish boat-people from Iraq on it, who embarked off the Asia Minor coast after paying exorbitant fares to their slave-drivers, was unexpectedly stranded at a southern French beach in February 2001, we saw the ugly face of present-day and tomorrow’s Europe: the episodes have multiplied over the years and generated a general blindfoldedness, but that particular event had spontaneously triggered compassion in the French population[7]. As has by now become routine all over the rich world now, the boat-people were held in an “extraterritorial zone” with the military in Fréjus, whereby the authorities considered that the refugees had not even reached French territory – to which they have no access through their confinement, and which is euphemistically called “rétention” and not “détention”. This “allows” the authorities not to apply the convention of “non-refoulement” of Geneva of 28-07-1951[8], and then, as a minister said, tomorrow “we shall apply the law”. Which means we shall send them back (the only question remaining – whereto?). The lesson could have been learned from the violent events in the Yugoslav area – but has it been? After all, the “never again” of the World War II the 50th year commemoration was being repeated at the very time when Europe was faced, passive,  with the new war in the Balkans (and as Sarajevo had been shelled for years, the Srebrenica massacres took place, and the bridge in Mostar was blown away). At each celebration we hear the “never again” mantra. It was repeated at the 2009 commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, as if much tougher, higher, deadlier and more numerous walls had not in the meantime risen on all fronts between rich and poor countries. Despite that such walls are as old as humanity, it is also true that museification of values is an extreme form of depoliticization which blocks everything, but is very accommodating of conflictual “identities” which, indeed, fit into the boxes delineated by the walls. If we don’t cultivate resistance, democratic pluralism, opposition, citizen’s defiance and control of power, as well as an openness and hospitality to others at the heart of Europe, if we neglect the expression of the plural citizenship of all individuals, we may well be fomenting tomorrow’s conflicts, both inner and outer.
Europe could have been imagined differently too. 
GENDER & NATION:  What has become discernible since, through the various third-world and east European examples, but also from within the west entering on a new phase of globalization, – is how gender gets inscribed as a hierarchy into a nation in the making. And how it is by the way reconfigured. It works then as an “archetypal” legitimation of any other hierarchy and of any other injustice through the analogy of the consensually accepted subordination of women. It is namely over periods of crisis, of great transformation and of collapse of larger systems, such as we had at the end of the 20-th century, that new negotiations for freshly realigned hegemonies take place. The rapport between genders, re-arraying the still maintained (though slowly weakening, at least in the West) inferiority of women, underpins and determines discretely all other relations, before being in its turn symbolically naturalized through the so established domination[9]. The degrading image and status of women as mere “ambiental” bodies in advertisements and in particular on some TVs[10], images that forge visions and values for generations; the constant refoulement of women from politics and the exercise of active citizenship in countries that lecture others about treating women (see France), the withdrawal of women’s elementary human rights previously held by women (in some east European countries), all these are signs of adjustments between male élites, and the price to pay by new all-male crews to get access to power. Constantly in practice finding new ways of downgrading women while paradoxically also constantly programming new laws that should elate them, is a doublespeak and two-pronged policy that has the advantage of satisfying opposed male constituencies at the same time and thus legitimizing, through gender, governing élites that may have been in need of legitimizing. 

The gender/sexual difference, as the oldest known difference inscribed into language, manages to sexuate everything. It permeates symbolically with sexual values all other differences within the sphere of the historically consensual and, thus, also of the historical legitimating of hierarchies that thrive on building divides between differences, or on transforming differences into inequalities[11].  The global patriarchal consensus[12] (the first of all globalizations) regarding the subordination of all women to all men is interesting also because it is universally used for the justification of other subjugations too, through a mechanism of symbolic « analogy ». This instrumentalization of a state of affairs (i.e. of the domination of all women by men) through its depiction as natural, and thus its naturalization and essentialization, is itself historic. This history of the social relation of genders is easily forgotten and masked by naturalization, i.e. by the substitution of the social and historic by the biological. The « national difference », when it appears, sometime between the 15-th and the 19-th centuries (depending on the viewpoint and the author), appears in the terms of the gender difference, « justifying » hierarchies that are paradigmatized by the pretended natural “archetype” of the hierarchy of genders. Therefore it is not possible any more to relevantly analyze the national « issue » without an insight into the dimension of the sexualization of the political discourse and of the sexualizing of the concepts related to the complex of nation, nationalism, of the becoming of the nation-state, of the citizen etc.  It is here important briefly to recall the difference between community and society, in the restricted way we use these terms in the present work. The nation itself is first of all a community yet to be made into a society – and never quite accomplished as such. Mainly, it is a promise. In a community, the individual takes refuge within the group, which makes him/her feel secure at the cost of his/her individuality and possibly even of his/her individual citizenship. This “maternal” metaphor discloses evidently an unquestioned hierarchy, expressed as the hierarchy of the fraternity, of the community, or of a vertical hierarchy. The maternal body to which the gregarious individuals or the member of some intolerant group ( a “community”) surrenders (say, the violent fan of a football club, or the fanatical member of a party) is like the army, the unit, the organization, like a machine within which he is just a replaceable part like any other[13]. Each of those members identifies with and interiorizes the vertical principle and the “father-figure” (the Founding Fathers of the Nation, for example) in order to be able to communicate with the others over that higher office, and in order to belong to them. Such a symbiotically integrated group, as a figuration of the Whole, is directly fastened to the larger group (the nation, the ethnic group, the religion, the community, depending on circumstances) which, although an empty concept in itself, is in its turn an efficient machine for the production of the energy necessary for violence and conquest.

In extreme cases of nationalist homogenization, that concern both men and women formally and statistically, the identification of or with the « other » does not occur in the same way with men and with women. Women are caught in a double-bind situation regarding the nation – they are the other or one of its others; this is paradoxical, because they also belong to the nation: they both belong and not belong! Even in their adherence to a nationalist project, women will be held unreliable and subordinated. The « nation » (a community) is the woman, and « race » is the woman to, oddly enough again, and to the letter: the fantasized « cleanliness » (lineage) of the “nation” or the “race” is guaranteed only through the control of women, but women don’t belong to the nation (or to the race) in the same way men do. This is because they are not its entitled bearers or representatives, except in some chosen figures (and monuments such as the Nation or the Mother) that guarantee their silent adherence to the nation or the willy-nilly enforcement of the latter on them. The nation doesn’t trust its women, in the same way in which it doesn’t trust the masses. It can instrumentalize both women, and the masses (the people). Therefore women get the right to vote, they become citizens, some 200 years after men, the first and only truly recognized bearers of the nation. Women have been added to the nation later and very disturbingly, because their subordination guarantees it. Thus they both incarnate the nation and its decline.  The national hero is a man. A community is constituted round a father-figure (the founding father) functioning as a supreme instance/office to which all (the brothers) accept to be equally subordinated. It is the Founding Father of the Nation who is the real subject, the one giving himself a World, while the humans can be made subject(s) inasmuch as they manage to be involved in his pattern and to take refuge under his wing for the security conveyed by the Universal. What are thus rejected (with women) are mixture, movement, transformation as well as plurality, to give way to uniformity and to origin within and through the same. Nicole Loraux demonstrated it paradigmatically on the Athenian historic example of state building.  The ideal of the nation, a masculine idea (masculine in the sense of a false universal), is however cast as a feminine figure: the Nation, a monument to an idea[14].  “The woman” is here shown to be the incarnation of the Nation, or the Nation is “the woman” precisely because women do not belong to it directly, but only in a subsumed and derived manner. There is so at least one fundamental continuity between Socialism and the new nationalist ethnocracies installed through the past series of Balkan wars: it is the continuity of patriarchy reconfirmed, though renegotiated and reconfigured. Patriarchy, of course, does not concern only women and their status, it concerns all the applications and symbolizations of social hierarchies presided over by a paternal figure (whether the Father is “good” or “bad”): children, dependents, the elderly, the weak, the vulnerable etc. The principle itself is even much more widespread. The consensus, necessary for the continuity, has been reached. 

1989 AS A THRESHOLD  The year 1989 is usually the demarcation line of the end of socialism, and the date of embarkation for the post-socialist “transition” which was never clearly defined. The general loss of universal, or its corruption since 1989, seems to point to some search for a new totality through such attempts as the enlargement of Europe etc. Elsewhere, even the Taliban seem to confirm this. Their fuel is the political canalization of an enormous sexual frustration and segregation which is intelligently (and perversely) maintained and instrumentalized by a totalitarian anti-political movement. It is another aspect of the problem that the Taliban are not corrupt and represent “order”, of which the population is in great want considering the failure of the state. Their collective madness shows not only that the sexual difference is at the bottom of many a political problem, but also precisely that what is at stake is (western) modernity, of which « socialism » or « capitalism » are then only specific forms. Nationalism (whose origin in the French Revolution was certainly at the political left from which it has since disconnected itself) is itself but an attempt to reconstruct a universal after the collapse of the previous “totality” or “ultimate truth”  which turned out to be false – since it proposed as universal a mere particular interest. But this is always the case with a “successful” universal: when, on the other hand, it is not consensually accepted, it fails to be recognized as universal. 

After the big shattering of the world dichotomy, the nation was and remains an attempt to avoid social divisions through a higher ideological and imaginary office. It is a vertical and patriarchal principle which is supposed to provide cohesion beyond divisions, vested of a divine transcendent power (which replaces, and secularizes, the divine power of the Ancien régime). The nation is so revealed to be one of the great historical figures of transcendence. It claims a state when it doesn’t coincide with one, in order to get a juridical framework whose aim is the neutralization of differences. At the same time when this is being finally achieved for the « late-comers » that we euphemistically call « developing countries », within the framework of the globalization of the western pattern of modernity, the « capital-sans-frontières » becomes trans-national and indicates towards a new universal, in relationship to which the same will be « late » again. This is usually pacified multi-culturalism, referring to the recognition of differences… within the neo-liberal hierarchy. Transitions take place under such unequal conditions.  In all countries, the political space is in need of opening and reconstruction, and political subjects, citizens, need to appear, including those who have been silenced in the past. They may indeed not even appear as subjects or agents at all, considering that some classical political forms, and such figures and mechanisms as representation, have proven to be insufficient or historically exhausted. They may appear “between the boxes” or in the “lignes de fuites” (Deleuze/Guattari) within new configurations. Here is where a negotiation still takes place over who will have access, and under what conditions, to the public and the political space. This is what “transition” is all about – a period of renegotiating political relations and possibly of renegotiation the concepts of the political and of politics. We need to move away from the normativity of those concepts as well as of such as “democracy”, “human rights” etc. But a democratic political subject will only be reconstructed in a sharing and reciprocity of judgment practiced in common by every individual, avoiding the extremes both of individualism or of collectivism and of forced identities. Self-realization must now comprise sharing, as Romano Màdera would say[15]. On the other hand, it is clear that we need new epistemological instruments in order to grasp on-going changes. “It remains to be seen what happens during this transition of the present system towards another or other ones”, writes
Immanuel Wallerstein concerning the transformations of the “world-system” within globalization[16]. And, says he further, “usual ways of reading will not appear appropriate anymore.” 

Multi-culturalism is often represented as the miracle-solution to all ailments of fragmented eastern-European societies that are called pluri-ethnic, and particularly of the Yugoslav area countries. This is why it will be of no use, and it is methodologically wrong, to explain the conflict, any conflict, in the language and in  terms of its results, i.e. of ethnic divisions: those are the outcome of the conflict and cannot be used to explain its causes or process. Giving heed to “ethnic” divisions amounts also to creating them, and using them to prevent conflicts is for the least naive, if not worse[17]

The constant claim for differences in the rhetoric of the war-lords and in that of foreign peacemakers is only the sign of their rejection at their hands. Their appeal is ambiguous when it is imperative, because one and the same expression in language (“difference”) covers both possibilities of acceptance and of rejection. The language that stiffens difference pretends to be able to define everything, to exhaust the meaning and to legiferate on it. It pretends to possess truth and to prescribe the only significance.  So Europe auto-legitimizes itself through the universal and humanist image it takes in its narratives, getting justified and recognized in its turn through the others (as in a mirror) to whom she would serve as a model to imitate: eastern Europe has played this role, and so has the third world over a long time. We have new blueprints of “others” by now: Turkey, the “terrorists”, “islamists”[18] Promises that are not held: the anticipated enjoying of Europe by herself (Europe constituted but also, to be constituted) happens through violence. It follows in this the same pattern as liberalism which “imitates the distribution of rights[19]” while making a new political theory which replaces economy. Abstract and useless rights, such as this locus of investment of the imaginary that is the Nation – are opposed to the concrete place of enjoyment of the goods they anticipate without ever really leading to them. Socialism, as a promise of a future happiness remaining out of reach, belonged to the same order. And so did the Balkans, imitating Europe because it is the way of enjoying it (anticipation through an eternal postponement).
Europe is that big promise not held – and untenable – under the conditions of the reaffirmed dichotomy. Under such conditions, there may be truces but no peace. Stasis and delaying violence, looming civil war. These lying anticipations of untenable promises, like the one of the anticipated enjoyment of the Nation in and through war, level in advance the temporal dimension bearing diversity and differences, as much as they allow for violence to be justified. 

All hegemonic forms, whatever the dominant groups, include patriarchal supremacy[20] that doesn’t concern gender relationship only, but also age, classes, peoples etc. Above all, any hegemony within the conditions of a scarce legitimacy imperatively needs to tighten the mechanisms of its patriarchal hierarchy. “Sexual control” (the control of the gender relationship and also of sexuality) is the first and most efficient “police” power. To exist, it doesn’t need a state (it is older), being present in all types of community. “Sexual order” comes before the state which it anticipates in the sense that the latter will rely on it. So will all successive forms of power.  Universality doesn’t apply to the various subalterns or to women except in order to subordinate them, since universality is itself a hierarchy. “Modern democratic states were able, until recent times and in spite of the universalistic principle that founded them, to ‘particularize’ certain ‘national’ groups within the law itself, without seeing there any contradiction with their founding principle.”[21] The Universal remains a resort for some, and also a form of guardianship, of permanent tutorship for others. 

National and world economy, as well as the system of states, develop in more or less evident long periods or cycles without dismissing or shattering completely – except in order to reorganize it – patriarchy. Such cycles or time spans are differently described by different authors. The transformations of the gender relationship elude easily observation, mainly because they are a slow and a very long term process. In this manner, patriarchal hegemony remains the “normality” and is conceptualized as insurmountable. This is how sex/gender becomes a normative category whose aim lies beyond the gender relationship itself.  Patriarchy operates then at two main levels, first as an “internal” pattern and mold which is then reproduced through the maintenance of the identity principle[22] in any hierarchy, and in Order as such in general, being particularly favoured by the constitution of the nation. Its continuity over longer time spans reassures the stability of the state and institutions. Patriarchy reproduces and maintains the latter in reciprocity. The state, and all the more the nation-state, “is constructed as the depositary of the collective force of men through instituted bodies such as the police, the army, the navy”, writes M. Spensky[23]. The identity principle – basic for the construction of society and state – associates universality to itself, appropriating it for the identical. It is therefore necessary that the subordination of women be itself universal in order to play the role of the universal pattern to the extent that even the organization of the state follows it. This is why “the woman” is traditionally, in philosophy, the limit, the obstacle to masculine universality, “universality” under the mask of neutrality. For this purpose, the construction of the state and of the family are two ends of one and the same configuration[24], and the ego of the future individual and subject is molded by and for both, but first and foremost through and within the family. The family is, on the lower end, “representative” of the state. Within the state, women will be relegated to the private space of family and rendered symbolically invisible and without publicity, exactly the way it is requested concretely, by the order of pardah with some castes and classes in
India at the turn of the empire. There, according to a Muslim custom adopted by upper class Hindus too, women were hidden behind curtains and blinds, and within the women’s quarters. 

At a second and “outer” level, patriarchy serves as a general framework in the very long run, encompassing shorter cycles of the evolution and dynamics of states, as much in their economic as in their political organizational dimension. And if the observed cycles of the world order (economy, relationship between the states, creation of new states etc.) may usually expand over 25, 50 or 70 years, the long cycle concerning social relationships of gender may last for centuries and millennia, with (only) seemingly identical (and in reality often re-negotiated) features. It seems slower. Yet its extension over a long period doesn’t prove its eternity, perpetuity or immobility. On the contrary, within the (historic) organization of the world where men prevail over women and dominate them, that we call patriarchal, the relationships shift and change over time, but often preserve semblance. The system has the task to make coincide gender and age relations with other social relations (to start with work) in order to conform them to the type of hegemony that has to be reproduced, to the economy, the social, political organization, and with the world geometry (the relations between states). This is not a merely external and formal concordance. It is something that fits intrinsically because the relations between genders cross, intersect and get projected onto all others. It is capital for the coherence and for the safeguard and legitimacy of the system as a whole – social, economic, political; at the level of communities, of society, of the state and also between states. In these various transformations, the gender relation (as well as the control of sexuality) will be reconfigured at the service of the reigning hegemony, representing continuity. Patriarchy indeed is a great stabilizing continuity producer: dominant formations have the capacity to invest, embody and enact duration. Societies where patriarchy has not prevailed, or where patriarchal domination seems traditionally to be softer (in matrilineal societies for example, which are however also patriarchal) are generally only closed societies or communities surviving in isolation. They disappear at different speeds. Patriarchy is “contagious” and it propagates itself across class relations and as fast as these, as much as other types of inequality, as the constitution of states. It serves to support them. It is impossible to imagine a class society and a society of unequal nations that would be at the same time equalitarian sex and gender-wise. Gender relationships as they are, are most deeply rooted and pervasive precisely because they are at the service of other hegemonies. States are made and unmade, and alliances among them are done and undone on the basis of a patriarchal hegemony. The latter doesn’t require the state in order to organize itself or to remain valid, but it is constantly reformulated by the state and legitimated by it in reciprocity and also through a constant permeability of the “within” and the “without”.  At the same time, the system of states still needs, even today, in order to survive, a patriarchal arrangement in order to aim at the power-hegemony between the states themselves. (The world power game.) We are used to perceiving the societies, and also the communities within a state, and to see them as the outer framework of all possible politics. It is within the state, indeed, that a public, political, civic space is created, which is supposed to make the negotiations for democracy possible, and thus to allow also sex/gender relationships to play the game. But public space is limited by the state, whereas patriarchy is not. It is international or, better said, transnational and it concerns all social and political relations. Crossing the margins by certain groups within it isn’t enough to make the state give in on fundamental questions of gender, since it is the state that institutionalizes the order of inequalities. The states are themselves simply the largest institutions: they are constructs, specific organizations, instrumentalizations with other ends (namely power) of social fabric, including gender relations. Not only the state necessitates a patriarchal hegemony, but the power relationship (and the hegemony) between the states itself, not to speak of economy at all levels, need it. The various hegemonies of power, and in particular those emanating from the state, hide the sexual/gender one, because they lean on it and get legitimated by the global consensus regarding it. A consensus they contribute to maintain, and that they have therefore an interest in occulting. It is really one inseparable whole – the organization of the world, the system of states and the patriarchal social order are one and the same thing, only perceived at different levels.  An understanding between the world order (which is necessarily organized as a more or less stable hegemony) and the oldest hegemony of the patriarchal system is necessary and it is always looked for. It is given in advance and reorganized on all occasions. Transitions such as colonial, postcolonial, post-Cold War, post-socialist transition all rely on the reconstruction of a gender order. During periods of crisis, when it is put into question and when the patriarchal order is somewhat shattered, these tight relations of correspondence and of coincidence between an interior and an exterior (the social and the state orders, psychic and economic order, etc.) are meticulously reconstructed with, in view, the new parameters. The sex/gender relation underpins the stability or on the contrary entails the instability in all important spheres: in economic relations, in the distribution of work, in political space, in relations between the communities, in the relations of different groups with the state and among themselves, in organizing the public sphere, in the reception or rejection of migrants etc. The unpaid work and the condition of subalternity of women maintain the economy of the states as well as the world economy, and both would crumble to pieces in the form known to us if that relation were not to support them anymore[25]. A true epistemological revolution is needed in order for the backdrop of the world order to be seen, because of the historic prohibition pending regarding its visibility. This is obviously also a cultural problem.  The space of gender rapports, which extends to all human activities, is also the privileged field of a power exercise. What would be a balanced gender relationship, where one wouldn’t prevail over the other? It would be necessary, to start with, to be able to invent and to imagine it, something that is generally forbidden by the (prematurely) closed narrative concerning it. Sharing power would probably be necessary, but that is impossible in a perspective where power itself has become an aim, a condition for survival and a mode of life. What would be necessary, are another culture and politics, another economy, another eroticism, another symbolic system and another finality of power. A relaxation of individual sovereignty, to accompany the transformed functionalities of state sovereignty. There is a very long history of male sovereignty, particularly in the west, with no equivalent, in the same terms, in female sovereignty, which is much more cryptic, or in Asia. But in such an option then, power wouldn’t be self-centered in the sole preoccupation of its own reproduction, and would be open in a perspective and an effort of constant sharing and democratization. It would be a public service of sorts. Power would be necessary then for the identities not to be arrested and ultimately defined. It would be required also that the hegemonic relations con-forming a system at all the levels, may not rely by analogy on the “norm” of the treatment reserved for women. That would be the case in negotiating a hegemony that is not gender blind. It would be necessary, in such negotiations, to take into account the invisible causality between the gender relation and other historically constituted hierarchies. We should lose the habit of seeing patriarchy as a hierarchy concerning only the relationship between women and men. It is analogy and symbolic relations that are at work here. Nevertheless, correcting the inequality of the gender relations and of the patriarchal hegemony (among other “corrections” to be brought into the picture) suggests that the action be lead at all levels, from the private to the state, and also to the level of the transnational. The action at the national level seems nowadays quite insufficient. But the “international” level doesn’t seem quite sufficient either, because it reproduces the national pattern. We know that the UN and various NGOs operate at a trans-national scale, but we are also aware it is so because, confined to the scope of the nation, action is selective, non-democratic by principle and, moreover, limited by the state itself[26]. At the UN or international level, action is undertaken in accordance with state policies and thus will not question deeper configurations of gender that concern individuals, communities, societies, civil society, but which also eludes them. In terms of subjectivation and of political action, it is now clear that globalization has introduced forms and actions that do not fit the boxes or institutions of representational or official and state politics, of state borders, and that many things happen at infra- or supra-levels that are not captured by square approaches. New or old networks bypass or overflow institutions in the traditional sense, and new agencies that can’t be assigned, identified, structured and ordered make their way, some of them more congenial to migrants’, women’s, or other alternative ways. In the sphere of cognitive capitalism, the shared knowledge of networks based on individuals and even on their bodies as carriers of the knowledge and of required experience have transformed labour from its industrial-capitalist sense. Workforce now includes knowledge-and-human-bodies-carrying-it, supposes migrations, genderation (both gender and generations), and the way it is shared in networks and transmitted over age groups. Workforce now includes the way it is paradoxically part of capital too or required by it – required as a new form of agency which escapes the dialectics of the subject-object relationship, or that of sovereignty-subordination. 

We also have two contradictory movements. On the one hand, in Northern, rich countries, patriarchy reorganizes more flexible relations between genders (without however disappearing completely) and allows for a larger but very controlled margin of empowerment of women, inasmuch as the social context allows for it. This influences in its turn, though slowly, the symbolic order. But at the same time the tension gets higher, and patriarchy is reconfigured in a much more exacerbated and ever harder manner for women in Southern countries, and also in most countries of Eastern Europe. The first (Southern countries) are at the same time those whose population grows much faster. Meanwhile, a South within the North spreads, through immigration and pauperization, and the re-traditionalization and neo-communalisms follow. Communalist movements tend to restore traditional patriarchies, however “ethnic” and “differentialist” be their rhetoric: this is not a contradiction. This creates unstable relations such that the system needs to reconfigure itself in order not to collapse. It always begins reconstruction through a redefinition of the gender relationship, whatever the level of emancipation of women in the Northern/Western hemisphere, and also whatever the level of previously and locally acquired autonomy[27]: the condition of women had indeed improved mainly for the middle classes. So patriarchy is always a step ahead of the world system (the patriarchy is already somewhat shaken, for some social classes), but also a step backwards (the ever threatening possibility of a reversal). The change in the sex/gender relation can greatly contribute to the destabilization of a current hegemony, but this effect of a precipitation of the crisis (its aspect of “gender relationship”) is at the same time slowed down by the other global components, as indeed the just mentioned rapport North-South. A theoretically possible and unconsciously always feared revolt of women for the change of gender disparity is the best guarded, the best averted of all possible insurrections, and it is systemically prohibited. Yet the system fears in anticipation and prevents the “dangerosity” of the destabilization that might bring about a change in the gender relationship, and it reacts thereto in prospect always excessively while re-affirming patriarchy. This has been called the patriarchal “backlash”[28]. Far from coming as an aftermath, the “backlash” can really be seen as preventing and anticipating, if we keep in mind the here proposed reversal of causality: it is the patriarchal order that underpins and legitimizes other hierarchies. It will then be in its turn reinforced by them, but it is a capital component of the system of intertwined hegemonies.  Hegemony is always a negotiated type of distribution and configuration of power. It can be more or less (un)equalitarian. It can and must be bargained[29]. When well negotiated, it leads to power relations that are more or less satisfactory for the different groups involved over a certain period of time[30], though not for the same reason for all. It is not all satisfactory forever, because there always remain some who are excluded. This arrangement is sufficient to render it legitimate, of a legitimacy that lasts in stability as long as the balance of the represented interests is maintained, even in inequality. As soon as the equilibrium is lost and as soon as the distance between the sense of reality and the prematurely closed discourse is felt[31], the current hegemony will in its turn be delegitimized and eventually replaced. Evidently, new actors/agents may appear who had not been taken into account previously, at the instauration of the hegemony as it is, which will lead to new readjustments. Women (the inequality of genders) are a historic stake of the reigning hegemony, and even of several subsequent hegemonies, in the long run. But from objects and instruments of maintenance of power (of any type of power), they emerge in a significant manner also as autonomous subjects as well as allies to others, especially nowadays, even though the process is slow and difficult. There are disparities and incongruence which make it difficult to account for the gender divide within the traditional view of the constitution of a nation, within the framework of the world order and within that of state relationships, because of different levels of reading and because of different perspectives in the analysis. A micro- and a macro-observation of the same phenomenon may be mutually exclusive or incomprehensible. The world system, in its relation of constant evolution and fundamental instability between the states, is always installed also by a (de)localization and a (re)territorialization of power, which changes its epicentre with the replacement of great hegemonies. And we have seen globalization perform a considerable de-territorialization (trans-étatisation, trans-nationalization) of certain elements of power. To speak in this context of gender relations makes us shift the scale of reading. What is the link between the different conditions of genders and the relations between the states? We are surely used to perceive gender-relations only within the area of the private and of the intimate. But this is a trap. This reduction to the private is itself part of the hide-and-seek mechanism by which we are made unconscious of the connection in order to let the hierarchy function unobstructed. 

The power centres in world politics change and some peripheries are co-opted by the centres, or the relationship between centre and periphery becomes irrelevant. Many observers probably think that power of the range of the world is nowadays placed to a very high degree in only one centre, the United States the only remaining “super-power”, or soon in China, while there were two mirrored great powers during the Cold War, and while there may be more in the future[32]. But in this slow reconfiguration of the centre and of the peripheries, something seems wrong. Far from being concentrated and localized in some main spots, as the economic and political power may be, women as emerging actors and also as symbolic capital of men are omnipresent. They are omnipresent and dispersed, spread across, as much as the patriarchal symbolic underpins all types of real power-relations. The world system and the patriarchal order are forms of organizing power apparently incommensurable and incomparable. But only apparently so. We still have to understand and study their co-extension.   It will be necessary in social sciences, and this is a major methodological point, to connect them in their interrelationship, and also to interrogate our own terms of analysis. The terms of analysis, -  an arbitrary classification according to which the world is  fatally intertwined with the cleavage, in an unequal balance, of the interior/exterior, private-intimate/public, feminine/masculine etc., and according to which the relations on a big scale have nothing to do with those on a small scale, within society and in  the sphere of intimacy. Once again, it is the prematurely arrested discourse on the gender relations (and not the open potentiality of those relations), that makes appear this relation as fixed once for all, as if this discourse on gender were not itself part of the re-configuration of the (patriarchal) relations such as we know them. The fact that patriarchy prevailed historically is no proof that it is undebunkable, but its long cycle doesn’t help us to visualize its ending. We have always pretended that the fact of patriarchy was the proof of its transhistoric eternity. But it is possible to think its end. And with this objective in view, it is necessary both to invent the politics as well as to imagine conceptual coordinates. 

It is necessary to take those concordant hegemonies together, as a system that holds: the hegemony at work among the states is not independent from hegemonies at other levels or from those that inform them. They interact and support each other in transition. At the bottom there is, in all cases, the example of the domination of women by men as paradigmatic and “archetypal”. This belief is due to a consensus fundamental for the system, globalized since the beginnings of history and always re-iterated and readjusted. It is also necessary to see how a hegemony which is not to be localized in space (and which, although historic, is also difficult to localize in time), the patriarchal hegemony, informs, underpins and intersects with the planetary hegemony or hegemonies on the whole. To become aware of this seems now all the more urgent since it is evident that the world is again reconfigurating itself after 1989 and the fall of the “Berlin Wall”. This is a time of redefinitions. Such redefinitions are usually proposed by those who manage the new hegemony, and they are ready to cut and sacrifice any amount of benefits or rights of women for that purpose, cuts that they would not be able to pursue during the subsequent period of consolidation. The latter, on the other hand, is the period over which, though discouragingly slowly, women may be able to resist or to bring about some improvement. The moment of redefinition and crisis is the occasion to act at all levels, trans-national and trans-state as well as sub-national, while keeping in mind the mechanisms of preventive desublimation and defusing (désamorçage). It is also the moment of a great difficulty to resist because it is the middle of a crisis. For example, in the former
Yugoslavia, in the recent war torn decade of the nineties, it became visible that women’s rights and position were threatened at the same time as the war broke out. The war brought other priorities than women’s rights to the forefront, which were by the way advocated only by a few feminists, while almost everyone else turned to their ethnic and national priorities. World hegemony is established around mainly economic and political stakes as the most visible ones in any case. The discrimination is at the same time its instrument and its result. Can a threat to the patriarchal (not masculine) order shatter this system and if so, through which factors? It can, in so far as, precisely, the gender différend is not essentialized, in so far as it is de-naturalized (and not de-natured): there where it makes appear the political, and where it allows for the tension feminine/masculine to be understood as THE political par excellence. And also there where it plays the economic (always supported by the state), i.e. the hegemonic interests, since the work of all women puts all societies in a pre-condition favourable to the (re)configuration of their recognized and visible hegemonies. Shameful (un-confessable) hegemony so to say, in order to institute and authorize all other explicit hegemonies and to justify them. At the time when the replacement structures of a social and political order are being constructed at the level of the nation-states as well as at the international level, through the localization of power as well as through a delocalization (and virtualization) of economy, there is a chance as well as a risk for women in the re-structuring of the gender order. This occasion should be seized. 
But just as power gets localized, the absence of power too has its locations. In the reconfiguring of the new order, poor countries will be left behind once more, as much as the “superfluous”, “unexploitable” populations[33], while attempts will be made to include women in a specific way, as has always been the case so far: not really excluded, but included as subordinate and as material guarantees of the hegemonies. This is especially true mainly of women from poor countries (from the South) and of those from disadvantaged populations and from immigrants into Northern countries (but originating from Africa or Eastern Europe). What is being installed at the same time as the financial capital gets “trans-nationalized” through globalization, are the attempts to close borders to asylum-seekers from the South and the hardening of  policies and of police practices regarding immigration[34], regarding the regularization of “illegal” immigrants, refugees, stateless and homeless people. If this is maintained, up to 50% of the population of Northern countries could find themselves without social, civic and political rights soon[35]

The world configuration that we know and have lived through up so far after the end of the Cold War, while the post- 1989 is well under way, is the one where the nation and the nation-state that inhabits it were linked with a liberal process in economy and politics.  This has been going on ever since World War II and especially so since the first big wave of decolonization, in order to contain the demands for democratization coming up from all sides. The Welfare state which is the result thereof is limited, indeed, by the form (of) the state itself[36].  It therefore cannot, even if it wanted to, put into question the patriarchal order that underpins it and reaches beyond it at the same time. Solutions may have to come from elsewhere than merely the national and state framework. This is also why, as it is, patriarchy was not dismissed so far, because it represents a basic structure both of societies and of states. But the new political subjects arise there where injustices persist and also where there is a horizon of historically acquired liberties and promises. They may be in their turn groups with authoritarian hegemonic pretense, especially if they are constructed in the way of a community with exclusive genealogy and closed identities.  Or they can be simple collectivities of interest, more difficult to mobilize but less inclined to succumb to the identitatian tensions and thus to the claim of exclusive power. Their impact is slower than that of the “tribes” of post-modernity re-traditionalized, but it could well be, in the long run, a bearer of stability. One such group, which is not a community and cannot be ethnicized, are women. Migrants, disadvantaged populations, inhabitants of the Third world, apart and beyond their possible constitution in classes or in ethnic communities, too. There is in them a power of displacement and of transformation of the hegemonic configurations as a whole. It is a risk, and there is no guarantee of success. Because the new questions concerning the subjects, and about who the future agents will be, locate them elsewhere than only within intra-state space. They are at all levels, and are made of intersecting and mixed identities. The problem is to expose and articulate the relationship between the macro- and the micro-level. The day when maintaining the present patriarchal order will not be able to guarantee the reproduction of the hegemony of nations, of states, of economic powers, it will fall of itself. We must think that that day those hierarchies will find something else to prop themselves upon in their transformation and that is what we shall then have to be critical of. We see that today, and this is a considerable novelty, the equality of genders is largely recognized as desirable in vast ideological areas of the North, but also in significant areas of the
Third World as well as by important international and trans-national organizations. Yet this is not enough, because world patriarchy supports the world order. 
And if, inversely, we democratize the field of gender relations through the political, the cultural, we are sure to influence also the type of hegemony that is being constructed. And we can regret the fact that all universal (i.e. the one that manages to seize hegemony) is of a particular origin without any will for sharing and for democracy. It remains nevertheless that democracy, always only  to come, is an infinite process, that the places of all can be the object of arrangements and negotiations, that they are interdependent and that the arrogance and usurpation through hegemony – which sooner or later gets unveiled – can be repaired in a more or less long run. It is a chance for women (and their risk too). Patriarchy is certainly a revolting fact, but it is no more immutable or incorrigible than other injustices and inequalities. It is the form itself that the rectification takes. In its pale, the unequal gender relations can be modified, contributing thus to a democratization beyond the gender relation itself. It is no question of correcting a natural order, but a historic course. This is always possible, never guaranteed, and unfortunately never achieved in a definitive way. The argument of the symbolic order has been repeatedly raised against the possibility of redressing gender injustice. It is a strong argument because the power of the symbolic is incalculable. But is it absolute? It is to be doubted. It should not be forgotten that this argument itself acts as a powerful mechanism for preventing gender justice and equality, and that after all, even in the area of the symbolic, things do slowly go forward. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY    Etienne Balibar, Droit de cité. Culture et politique en démocratie, Editions de l’aube, La Tour d’Aigues 1997.   

Marie-Claire Caloz-Tschopp, Les sans-Etat dans la philosophie d’Hannah Arendt, Payot, Lausanne 2000

Marie-Claire Caloz-Tschopp (sous la dir. de), Hannah Arendt, Vol. 1:  Les humains superflus, le droit d’avoir des droits et la citoyenneté; Vol. 2: « La banalité du mal » comme mal politique, (receuil) L’Harmattan, Paris 1998 Payot, Lausanne 2000.  Susan Faludi, The Backlash, Anchor Books 1991. 

Colette Guillaumin, Sexe, Race et Pratique du pouvoir. L’idée de Nature, Côté-femmes, Paris 1992.  William Guéraiche, Les Femmes et la République. Essai sur la répartition du pouvoir de 1943 à 1979, Eds. de l’Atelier, Paris 1999. 

Nations and Nationalism, vol. 6, Part 4 October 2000, special issue on “Gender and Nationalism”, ed. by Deniz Kandiyoti.   Radomir Konstantinović, Filozofija palanke, NOLIT, Beograd 1981. (First publ. 1969.) 

Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Towards a Radical Democratic Politics, Verso, London 1985.  B. Luverà, iconfini dell’odio. Il nazionalismo etnico e la nuova destra europea, ER, Roma 1999; Il Dottor H. Haider e la nuova destra europea, Einaudi, Torino 2000. 

Romano Màdera,  L’alchimia ribelle. Per non rassegnarsi al dominio delle cose, Palomar, Bari 1997.  Paolo Rumiz, La secessione leggera. Dove nasce la rabbia del profondo Nord,  Editori Riuniti, Roma 1998. 

Martine Spensky (sous la dir. de), Universalisme, particularisme et citoyenneté dans les Iles Britanniques, L’Harmattan, Paris 2000.  Klaus Theweleit, Männerphantasien, 1977, 1978; English translation: Male Fantasies, Vol.2, trans. Erica Carter and Chris Turner, Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis 1978/1989. 

Alain Touraine, Comment sortir du libéralisme?, Fayard, Paris 1999.  Eleni Varikas, Penser le sexe et le genre, PUF, Paris 2006. Immanuel Wallerstein, After Liberalism, The New Press, New York 1995. 

[1] The present chapter has its sources and first versions in chapters of  my French books Le sexe de la nation, Léo Scheer, Paris 2003, and Dame-Nation. Nation et difference des sexes, Longo editore, Ravenna 2003.  [2] A note on the English-language expressions of « sex » and « gender ». They have been very useful to denote the difference between a historic process of social structuring and hierarchy with gender roles, stereotypes etc. (gender), and the biological difference (sex): this distinction, though existing (spol & rod, sexe & genre), is not always tenable in other languages to the extent it is appreciated in English for reasons Ii cannot go into within the present paper. In French, for example, « sexe » and « genre » cannot always be as neatly distinguished, which is due also to a different epistemological setup. The sex and gender distinction in English is of a pragmatic American thought-origin and disposition of categories, and it also presupposes a specific theoretical setting. Nobody can tell where sex ends and gender begins, nor is this important. That is also why the danger of « essentialization » should not be exaggerated, as it often is. See
Eleni Varikas, Penser le sexe et le genre, PUF, Paris 2006.

[3] see the concept of  “Alpine populism” of
Paolo Rumiz, or the work of Bruno Luverà and others. 
P. Rumiz, “Le populisme alpin”, in Transeuropéennes 18, 2000, p. 103-123; La secessione leggera. Dove nasce la rabbia del profondo Nord,  Editori Riuniti, Roma 1998.  B. Luverà, iconfini dell’odio. Il nazionalismo etnico e la nuova destra europea, ER, Roma 1999; Il Dottor H. Haider e la nuova destra europea, Einaudi, Torino 2000. Also: Michel Huysseune, “Masculinity and secessionism in Italy: an assessment” in: Nations and Nationalism, vol. 6, Part 4 October 2000, special issue on “Gender and Nationalism”, ed. by Deniz Kandiyoti, pp. 591-611.

[4] Ivan Iveković, “Yugoslavia, Fragmentation and Globalization:  Some Comparisons”, manuscript prepared for the  “World Forum for Alternatives” (WFA) as one of the basic texts for its Annual Report “The World Seen By Its People”(2001).

[5] Gabriella Fusi, “Il movimento studentesco in Jugoslavia”, in Primavera di Praga e dintorni. Alle origini del ‘89, a cura di Francesco Leoncini e Carla Tonini, Edizioni Cultura della Pace, San Domenico di Fiesole 2000. 

[6] but the de-nazification of Germany was possible among other things thanks to the post-war colonization by the Allies which, except for Kosovo and partly for Bosnia-Herzegovina was not done here.

[7] most of whom were not even going to be allowed to apply for asylum, while most others would be rejected – it was said so in order to calm a supposedly immigration-opposed electorate. In fact, public opinion proved to be more open than the rigid government position, so the government gave in after a few days and allowed 8 days (!) of freedom and access to French territory to all these refugees, so that all of them may, if they wished so, ask for asylum. Le Monde, 4-5 mars 2001, “Les Kurdes rescapés de l’‘East-Sea racontent leur épopée”, p. 8. 

[8] Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 33 – Prohibition of expulsion or return (“refoulement”), modified by the protocole of New York of 1967, concerning the status of refugees, a convention that France, among other countries, has signed.

[9] Examples of re-negotiation of the condition of women: the institution of the Rabin Ajau and of the “Señorita de la belleza de la zona militar” in Guatemala; the quarrel over reservations in India; the new feminist groups mushrooming since the advent of ethnocracies in the former Yugoslavia, the introduction of the “parity” system for candidates of elective posts in France, etc.

[10] See in particular Italy: Giovanna Zapperi, “Visions du sexe dans l’Italie de Berlusconi”,  La Revue internationale des livres & des idées, novembre décembre 2009, p. 14-16 (Editions Amsterdam, Paris). 

[11] Difference « in itself » is not marked, but it is historically and concretely construed as the hierarchy, domination, injustice, social inequality that are really « theoretically » based on it. « Long live the difference », « Vive la différence » is the slogan of both equitable social claims (possible, but not necessary), as well as of the (possible, but not necessary) racist arguments. As shown by Balibar, new racism is « differencialist ».

[12] Colette Guillaumin, Sexe, Race et Pratique du pouvoir. L’idée de Nature, Côté-femmes, Paris 1992. 

[13] Klaus Theweleit, Männerphantasien, 1977, 1978; English translation: Male Fantasies, Vol.2, trans. Erica Carter and Chris Turner,
University Press,
Minneapolis 1978/1989, pp 79-80.

[14] To the paralysis of the statue, Eva Peron is the only once living counter-example i can think of.

[15] Romano Màdera,  L’alchimia ribelle. Per non rassegnarsi al dominio delle cose, Palomar, Bari 1997. 

[16] I. Wallerstein,De Bandoung à Seattle. “C’était quoi, le tiers-monde?”, in Le Monde diplomatique, août 2000, pp. 18-19. [Here retranslated into English by me.]

[17] For ex. Charles Taylor, « Quiproquos et malentendus: le débat communautaires-libéraux », in Lieux et transformations de la philosophie, dir. par Jean Boreil et Jacques Poulain, PUV, Saint -Denis 1991, p. 171-202. 

[18] TERROR, TERRORISM, STATES & SOCIETIES. A Historical and Philosophical Perspective, ed. by S.K.
Das & R. Iveković, Calcutta Research Group,
Women Unlimited, New Delgi-Calcutta 2009.

[19] Jacques Poulain, at the conference  « Guérir de la guerre et juger la paix », Université de Paris-8, juin 1995, and other writings. 

[20] “patriarchal”, far from being ontologically or biologically masculine, is here but the fact that the masculine has historically prevailed as a symbolic system and as a power relationship. It therefore concerns everyone, and excludes those to whom it attributes nature or denies access to reason (or, more exactly, it includes them as subordinate). It is the principal configuration of any hierarchy. Women, for example, are included on the condition that they play the game and that they desolidarize themselves from other women: William Guéraiche, Les Femmes et
la République. Essai sur la répartition du pouvoir de 1943 à 1979
, Eds. de l’Atelier, Paris 1999. 

M. Spensky (ed. by), Universalisme, particularisme et citoyenneté dans les Iles Britanniques, L’Harmattan, Paris 2000, p. 13. 

[22] I call “identity principle” or “continuity of the identical” the inertia manifested by the same to reproduce itself as identical to itself in order to keep the dominating position. At the symbolic level, this is done through the normative transposition of the exclusive genealogy (the father’s surname). This becomes then an imperative directive line for the subject, especially from the moment when remaining in power has become a condition of survival. For this to be the case, some political circumstances are also required. But can we imagine a desire for power which is not (yet?) necessarily self-centered? A qualitative threshold has been passed when we have crossed over to that “site” where life means or equals power. This is where violence towards the others collapses into its opposite, in the long run into suicidal violence.

M. Spensky, op. cit., p. 147.

Eleni Varikas, “Naturalisation de la domination et pouvoir légitime dans la théorie politique classique”, in L’invention du naturel. Les sciences et la fabrication du masculin, 2000, pp 89-108.

[25] Colette Guillaumin, Sexe, Race et Pratique du pouvoir. L’idée de Nature, op. cit. 

[26] According to I. Wallerstein, whose insistence on cycles of the world system has inspired me here, it is also so because the medium term or the “middle run », which would be its time, « supposes an ongoing, well-functioning historical system » that can hardly  be put into question : After Liberalism, The New Press, New York 1995, p. 7.

[27] We have seen, in countries of Eastern Europe, considerably deteriorate the  material and legal condition of women, as well as their political rights since the general collapse of 1989, comparatively but also keeping in mind all proportions (because everybody’s, including men’s condition has suffered since).

[28] Susan Faludi, The Backlash.

Ernesto Laclau,
Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Towards a Radical Democratic Politics, Verso, London 1985.

[30] I. Wallerstein, After Liberalism, op. cit., p. 25: according to I. Wallerstein, hegemonic cycles in relationships between the states have lasted between 25 and 50 years in the past.

[31] Radomir Konstantinović, Filozofija palanke, NOLIT, Beograd 1981. (First publ. 1969.)

[32] I. Wallerstein says the opposite: the Cold War was a  uni-polar world disguising American hegemony (which was at its peak from 1945 – 1968/73), while we are heading today towards a bi-polarity which has yet to be decided between the USA, Japan and Europe (Japan will join one of the two others). The two great ensembles would then associate with (without incorporating them) China (USA/Japan) and Russia (
Op. cit.

Marie-Claire Caloz-Tschopp, Les sans-Etat dans la philosophie d’Hannah Arendt. Les humains superflus, le droit d’avoir des droits et la citoyenneté, Payot, Lausanne 2000. 

[34] at the same time as it is clear that this immigration will not be contained, among other things because of the need for more and more specialized labor from the Third world.

[35] I. Wallerstein proposes the number of 25-50%,  and says that “many (perhaps most) of these persons will not have voting rights”, in the chapter  « Peace, Stability and Legitimacy, 1990-2025/250″, in After Liberalism, op. cit., pp. 23, 34-35. See also M.C. Caloz-Tschopp (ed. by), Hannah Arendt, Vol, 1: Les sans-Etat et le « droits d’avoir des droits », et Vol. 2: « La banalité du mal » comme mal politique,  L’Harmattan, Paris 1998;
Etienne Balibar, Droit de cité. Culture et politique en démocratie, Editions de l’aube, La Tour d’Aigues 1997; –Nous, citoyens d’Europe? Les frontières, l’Etat, le peuple, La découverte 2001; Alain Touraine, Comment sortir du libéralisme?, Fayard, Paris 1999.

[36] I. Wallerstein, op. cit., p. 39.

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Exception as Space and Time: Borders and Partitions. A Politics of Philosophy (Chapter 3/6)

Posté par radaivekovicunblogfr le 11 novembre 2009

Apart fromt the separate presentation on this site of the unpublishd book A politics of philosophy,  the latter starts here from its second chapter. The site is under construction and the chapters too. The first chapter of A Politics of Philosophy will not appear here, as it has been shortened and transformed into a paper for the online journal Transeuropéennes,, where it can be read. That paper is titled “A Politics of Philosophy since Modernity. Indian and Western philosophies”.   ©rada iveković 

A POLITICS OF PHILOSOPHY  Chapter 3  Exception as Space & Time : Borders and Partitions[1] In her book No Woman’s Land. Women from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh Write on the Partition of India,
Ritu Menon and her authors have confirmed that the Modern Nation has no place for women, and that citizenship was not really meant for them. Women’s place is uncertain both regarding the nation and regarding citizenship insofar as the two are linked. Various writers and scholars have shown that they do not include or include in at a lesser degree (as a constitutive exclusion, an inclusive subordinate way) colonised populations, different disadvantaged groups (“inner colonisation”), migrant and refugee populations. Or rather, that nation and citizenship apply to women, to the colonised, to the conquered and the variously “secondary” or downtrodden – in a subordinating way. Borders on the land or boundaries in the minds – partages de la raison – are lines drawn to produce difference, then to hierarchise it and finally to render it normative. In that sense, the view of  the “delay” of female citizenship  in time (some 150 years, in France, against “universal” i.e. male suffrage) or that of the “backwardness” of Third World countries compared with the West, which are as many attempts to set a boundary in time between the Modern and the pre-Modern, are themselves normative viewpoints. The concept of delay (time) and of distance (space) are conceived in a perspective of continuity. But the latter does not apply to the mentioned populations who disturb the prevailing continuity and consecutiveness. These concepts will now have to be revised if we want to move away from a Eurocentric perspective towards diverse sconfinamenti, transborderings. What may substantially correct the more traditional Eurocentric approach to borders and boundaries is “positioning oneself there where thinking is a vital necessity”. We might want to meditate on that: not rooting the “subject position” or rather the “process that the subject is” in the ego-position (individual or collective) confirmed and framed by dominant history, but rather building it on the side of vital necessity: there, where thinking is the last recourse for survival and for the existential (not only in the material sense), because there is nothing else. We also want to reflect on the building en creux of citizenship in a positive way, even there where it is not recognised, where it has already been outgrown, or where it is only a hope for the future. In situations of displacement, homelessness, partition, war, refuge, of fleeing populations or migrant movements. This involves a changing view of borders and of partitions, of nation and citizenship: these are no longer and necessarily only those rigid territorial, spatial lines, they are also temporal: borders appear and open up everywhere and in hitherto unexpected ways. On the other hand introducing the dimension of time as here permits to reflect on (dis)continuities and on transmission from generation to generation. Isn’t the laïcité (“secularism”) which, in France, was thought historically as the basis of the Republic, of the rule of law, and has been transmitted over a centralised system of public and free of charge schools, now in danger of becoming the exact opposite of its own secular ideal – when it yields to the generation conflict which dismantles the political dimension by the prevailing authoritarianism and conformism? The present chapter attempts reflecting on con-stitution/in-stitution as a way of establishing “ex-stitutions” (exceptions) too, those externalised “areas” or “times” that are without the scope of thinking and have been left unreflected, thus reproducing the normative rift of – reason and it’s opposite. We have seen plenty of those taking shape in the construction of
Europe lately, but elsewhere too. As Samaddar says, « this spatial-temporal resolution [through globalisation] of current history is based on attempts to iron out historically specific politics of war and peace with trans-historical explanations »
[2]. This ironing out of a temporal and historical dimension (in favour of a “historicizing” one) which confiscates the political dimension, characteristic of the palanka[3] also, of the post-colonial condition, is itself very violent[4]. We want to keep in mind both the conjunction and the displacement of the temporal and spatial aspects. One such big event of « ironing out » was for example the year 1989. For the inhabitants of the former Yugoslavia, it compressed time – they were supposed to step over, or rather to step « back » into capitalism («seen in a falsely restorative perspective as normality itself all of a suden, since the doublespeak of reason was forgotten). It produced not only greater violence, but also greater costs for Europe. The benchmark of 1989 was one such moment of suspense on a larger scale. It fashioned erased and conflicting memories[5], as much as other “critical events”[6] do, at least as much as World War II did[7], not to speak of the colonial heritage. 

Countries, Minds, worldviews, cultures can be split in different ways. We started working on geographical, territorial partitions, certainly because these were painful in many ways, as families are partitioned etc. We soon found out that partitions can happen along many other dividing lines; and indeed, some of us talked about “partitions of states and minds”[8]. They can  also operate over time, condensing time. There is an interesting book by the Spanish historian Santos Juliá, who says in an interview at its publication «The intellectuals have reflected in the XIX & XX centuries the permanent tension of the two
[9]. The last in line of the divisions of Spain had been the one over the Civil War, reflected in the silence for decades thereafter about its victims, the silence about the republican project and silence in a whole generation of people, our contemporaries, who grew up ignorant of it. The divisions in the past continue to produce new divisions in the present and in the future. The roots of the modern division of the two
Spains go back to the XIXth century however. The dichotomy regards the construction of the nation and the different ways in which the latter can be seen. It was always represented as a duality, says the author : true or false, new or old, official or real. Spain has always been and remained a fragmented nation. « The historic representation of the country has been shaped as a permanent duality, like two visions not only mutually exclusive, but antithetical. (…) This situation is prolonged from the XIXth century up to the Franco era which represents the exasperation of this conflict because the end of the Civil War is still felt as the elimination of an anti-Spain by the true
Spain. » He says further that the Catholics were foremost in the fabrication of the myth of
Spain and anti-Spain. The military dictatorship of 1923 in
Spain, supported by the Church, eliminated all liberal traditions. Since Francoism, any rebellion against dictatorship could only be expressed through the claim for democracy, but that was heavily repressed. The gradual but decisive return to democracy after the Franco era was however itself strongly embedded in the division of the two Spains and in the erasure of the republican memory and of any alternative history. But much earlier, quite before these Modern times, a profound partition had already been operated through colonial history, and the split ran, as we saw, over different lines and also between the two continents. One of them is the formidable rift established by the first modern constitution of Spain (Cádiz 1812) which introduced discontinuity and new sovereignties in Spain itself while disguising them into an acceptable continuity and departing from the past
[10]. Colonial spaces will soon thereafter remain extraterritorial and extra constitutional, thus discontinuous, but in this one attempt at least there was the paradoxical and impossible idea of including them on a quasi equal basis. That dichotomy lends itself as an argument, by the way, today to the Euskadi or Basque separatist claims. The wounds are deep, and they are more than one. The Spanish exemplary partage de la raison points back to the péché originel of the Cádiz dismantlement and replacement of the “Hispanic” monarchy by a global “Spanish” constitutional monarchy. The first Spanish constitution of Cádiz in 1812 indeed, initially imagined a tricontinental Spanish nation constituted of “nationalities”, resulting from a Cádiz Cortes with approximate “representatives” from as far away as the Philippines and the Americas claiming to come to some arrangement (mainly, commercial and economic) with the centre and in continuity with the centre. But the centre didn’t hold: subsumed political autonomies (among which, the Basque, the Catalan etc.) of domestic nationalities (pueblos) within the framework of Spain were not only accepted but were also considered co-constitutive and co-substantial of the Spanish nation, while overseas nationalities, whose colonial Creole elites claimed only relative home rule at first, did not get any political support for autonomy or independence. It was not a question of not giving it to the people – it was out of the question of giving it even to the Creole compradora elite. “European territories endowed with a peculiar constitution could be said to be independent” and to enjoy some status as exceptions (Portillo Valdés, op. cit.), but not transatlantic ones. Their exceptional status (ex-stitution) paradoxically institutionalised both them and their counterparts. Portillo Valdés calls this the “Atlantic revolutions”. Starting from that fatidic year of 1812, independences were declared, and “nations” established, without a people. This was the case in Spanish American colonies one after the other (and in the Americas at large), at the hands of the colonial Creole elites looking for free trade and the right to exploit for themselves, emancipated from the Spanish crown, the resources of the countries as well as the local population. Those nations were constituted on the condition of the exclusion of their people or of the indigenous population from citizenship, while modern European constitutionalism (for Spain, 1812) meant excluding overseas populations from one’s own colonial constitutions as well as from access to fair constitutions of their own. As B. Clavero will show in much of his writing and as
R. Samaddar shows for British colonies, constitutions were then imported into those countries again from Europe, barring the autochthonous population from the right to equal citizenship (the weight of this importation of ready made constitutions is still badly felt, politically, in the juridical systems of formerly colonised countries)
[11] and producing inner partitions in time and space. Latin American states will also do their best to import ready-made citizens or a “political people” from Europe throughout modernity, since none were identified locally. As both Clavero and José M. Portillo Valdés point out, this first – Atlantic – partition operated by
Spain has also its European flipside and is in tune with the earlier Enlightenment tradition of not recognising indigenous overseas populations any autonomous destiny or independence, not even within a liberal project (where colonies were only destined to satisfy European appetites). This colonial partition of the world is certainly spatial, but it clearly has its time effects the waves of which bounce onto northern shores today and may have some lasting effects. After all, those indigenous populations in many former colonies, and especially in older ones such as the Americas much after independence, are still not being included into the nation, or are only starting to be included into it with great juridical and political difficulties and resistance because of the initial fundamental preclusion or maybe rather forclusion: namely the nation there was constructed to exclude the population (or to include it as inferior), this “exclusion” being the very condition of its fusion, homogenisation and emancipation. What was freedom for the ones (coloniser at first, Creole elites thereafter) implied the loss of freedom for others (the indigenous people) who didn’t count. 
The division of the nation is by no means a Spanish privilege. Every nation is profoundly split and constructed on the exclusion of those who are not of the same birth. Such a founding rupture rubs off on citizenship too, since it is historically imparted preferably to nationals only. 

The political conflicts of opposed nationalisms in
Spain can probably partly be traced back to the emergence of the nation itself linked to doing away with the colonies, since that nation embraced all the others into its españolidad (rather than hispanidad) except indeed colonies. And it is exactly the embracing of the (European Hispanic) nacionalidades and their articulation as pueblos that offered this opportunity. In another European peninsula and later, the non-recognition of an all-Yugoslav nation within the former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia by its founding fathers worked in a similar way – impeding congregating around a common project
[12]. The “exceptional” inner autonomies or independencies, tolerated for local populations (the Basques or Catalans for
Spain) in the form of “repúblicas provinciales” were actually inbuilt into the construction of the dominant nation and also of the state. Over the past decades, especially the Basque historic constitutional “exception” and autonomy gave rise also to local violent claims, considered terrorist by the state and libratory by the claimants. I am not trying to send them dos-à-dos. In the former Yugoslavia, comparable “exceptions” of “nationalities” were partly and unevenly inbuilt into the federal construction (calling for a “constitutional patriotism”), but they also later appeared as numerous local claims of various nationalistic factions in the recent series of wars of dismantlement. Several “autonomous” regions and minuscule autonomous “republics” emerged over the region, pretending to statehood and independence. What the latter example has shown, much as the historic example of India’s partition, is that separation is a never-ending self-birth process the possibility of which is inbuilt into the instituting and constituting process itself. And also, that it spreads its effects over time, like a time bomb. When the history of its doing is concentrated in time, we have acute violence and wars. Spread over times, its effects may become less visibly murderous, and its links to its constitutional origin may also become blurred. This blurring is responsible for loosing sight of some of the effects of the old colonial history on the shape of the contemporary world and in the making of
Europe. This is a postcolonial Europe, unaware of its postcolonial dimension. Europeans have been groomed to believe that colonialism is a matter of the past, completely ended. 
Along similar lines, the French will remember the concept of “Les Deux Frances”, which recalls the domestic history of the Republic, and especially the concept of laïcité, i.e. the split of
France into clericals and seculars, but also the split between Catholics and Protestants. Moreover that internal rift points out at and hides another one. What remains hidden behind this divide, is the colonial one: the fact that colonies were considered extraterritorial and of course extra-constitutional too. Today, as a debate is instrumentally launched by the government at the end of 2009 on the definition of French “national identity” in view of elections in 2010, it revolves again around the demarcation from others, from immigrants from the global South. 

A similar deduction of successive divisions could be enumerated for France as is mentioned by S. Julia’ for
Spain. It could also refer, at a more general level, to the divide Left/Right and to the great divide of the Cold War. It could even be consequently shown to boil down to the profound contemporary divisions in the northern hemisphere itself, and to appear in the making of Europe, in divisions between the USA and a certain Europe, within Europe itself or between pros- and cons- of the second war on Iraq and pros- and cons- of the war on Afghanistan. This is a split that the East-European newcomers to the
Union do not perceive at all – as they speak of their wishful “Euro-Atlantic integration”. That split runs down the whole of the West/North, itself divided. But it refers also back to where some of its major roots are, directly or indirectly (depending on the author
[13]) to the great colonial divide of the world, which was a colossal historic partition in itself from which many successive rifts start. The question can be asked as to how much of it is being built into the new
Europe today and how?
It is possible to say of any society, quite beyond the state, that it is divided over a variety of matters. In this sense, the state is a colonising institution. The state may deepen, try to defuse those divides, it may maintain them or feed them. It does not seem able any more, in spite of its restorative policies (Samaddar), to mend the social rifts, whereas society, civil society, to a great extent governed or limited by the same state, is not able to smooth them out and reproduces them, often while defending itself from the state. An innocuous French example linked to the social turmoil regarding the state’s research and education  policies (where scholars ask for more means whereas the state introduces cuts at all levels and tends to even formally separate teaching and research): «  Our country lives with the idea that there are two academic Frances, one that teaches, the other doing research. »[15]  

Not only are states subject to partitioning (from the nation to partition, from partition to the nation[16]), but societies also suffer profound divisions constantly reconfigured and negotiated.  It seems increasingly obvious that we cannot separate state partitions, social cleavages and partitions of the mind, or partage de la raison Political instituting in itself, as Nicole Loraux has shown so well on the paradigmatic ancient Athenian examples, already proceeds from and with minds partitioned, maybe within them. This partitioning of the minds is usually called by French philosophers “the political” (le politique). Nicole Loraux shows how, with the ancient Greeks and according to the city’s self-mythification, men were considered (by themselves) as always already “there” in Athens since and within the “origin”, but not women, who were introduced at some later point as really a disruptive element and an artefact difficult to fit in. As a necessary evil. So women are not “autochthonous” as men are, they are therefore unfit to be citizens. While instituting the city and constituting a political community, men construct themselves as the norm and build themselves into the dominant position which assumes the form of the universal. Women, slaves and metecs, but women expressedly, are attributed the role of the inassimilable exception confirming the rule. Here, it is the sex-and-gender divide that operates as the paradigm of partitioned minds and as the first form of the political.[17] It is also immediately highly racialised. 

We had started however from territorial partitions of countries felt by their inhabitants as historically, culturally or experientially one, and felt by them as irreparably wounded once partitioned. Today, we could introduce the new elements of the new migrations, on which
R. Samaddar has been working, and also Sandro Mezzadra, to show new rifts and partitions, new borders running both within and without, and we can see them in the construction of
Europe. European borders tend to be exported to successively new border and buffer countries (first Poland, then Ukraine; first Slovenia, then Croatia) in the sense of security; and they tend to become extra-territorial (Libya, Turkey etc.) thus projecting elsewhere divisions and creating new ones. They also open inner border-spaces. We must be reminded, as Balibar says, that borders are a European invention, and mainly colonial at that. The new globalised situation has indeed produced new borderlines inside
Europe itself, areas out of reach of its citizens, areas where the law does not apply, before the migrants and refugees even have a chance to ask for asylum. New poverty borders, and lines of division of the various new camps or indistinct airport areas where refugees are removed from our sight. Here, I would like to refer to Balibar (Europe as Borderland), Daho Djerbal, Mohamed Harbi, Benjamin Stora,
Ranabir Samaddar,
Marie-Claire Caloz-Tschopp, and Bartolomé Clavero, the latter for Latin America. 
Speaking about partitions and transitions implies a modern Western episteme which may be inadequate in the sense that it pretends to apply to other parts of the world according to Western epistemic criteria. It is self-understood for example that it is the Western type of Modernity that is being globalised, and that is not wrong in a self-critical Western perspective, or in another sense, in a critical post-colonial perspective too. This certainly depends on the way Modernity is defined, but overcoming the paradigm of the Western episteme alone asks for broadening the definitions of Modernity to other directions (points cardinaux) : not binding it by its origin but defining it also independently, in order to open it to the future.[18]  

The partage de la raison, or the partitions of the mind produces exclusions. Reason is,  namely,  normative. It makes itself into a norm when it excludes madness designating it as heterogeneous. Those that are then labelled with madness (or with the opposite of reason : passion, immaturity, primitivism, underdevelopment etc.) are the excluded. Declared unreasonable, they are deemed negligible or deserving elimination. It is here that
Europe’s universalising project historically produces the process of suppressing the non identical.
The Western concept of universality and reason (a certain historically marked universalism, because, needless to say, there are other universalisms too) has always been linked to Europe’s history and to the West,  and had been an instrument in colonial expansion, in various conquests as well, but also in the propagation of Western modernity in a broader and “civilising” way, which is achieved in globalisation. It has been the ally of hegemony and of domination. The enterprise of “civilising” has historically been associated which territorial expansion and domination of the West. 

In a recent article the philosopher Giacomo Marramao[20] compares reason and identity and enters discussion with philosophers that set, depending on the case, the one before the other. Was reason or was identity « first » ? He shows the futility of the question put in such a way, because none of the two solutions allows departing from the vicious circle. He speaks about it in his book Passaggio a Occidente. Filosofia e globalizzazione (2003). But the concept of “partage de la raison” has the advantage of cutting transversally through reason and identity, these two ill-assorted concepts that pose the question in a more complicated and less clear way. Reason already proceeds, inasmuch it is dynamic, to a concatenation of divisions. It is the moment of its freeze, of immobilisation, that creates “identities”. Without “identities”, there are no exclusions. The self-constituting gesture of excluding from « madness » from « reason »  jams the genealogies of reason (inseparable in its origin from madness) and allows to designate all that is rejected as exterior to the self. Some historical periods have been more readily prone to this projection onto the other of all the negativity accumulated in the self: diverse pariahs, witches, Jews, Blacks, indigenous populations, women etc. could thus be demonised as the unacceptable and infréquentable alterity that would individually or collectively become the scapegoats of the « good society  (i.e. of the dominant)[21]. We cannot really separate reason from madness, the one being constitutive of the other, both being reciprocally co-substantial of each other.  How much madness for one reason, and what is the price in oblivion of a memory ?  Each is but a selection, and all selection is « fatally » practiced from a position of force, also when the latter is diffused or is not assignable to a definite agency (Foucault).  So reason comes neither « before » nor « after » identity, but it always operates distinctions, bifurcations, divisions, partitions and oppositions which are its only way of moving ahead – and it also reelaborates and overcomes them when it is kept alive. When it remains “crooked” or “folded” and potentially ambiguous, that is when the straight line has not triumphed. Identity crystallises there where reason stops through laziness of the mind, arresting histories, narrations (constitutive of identities) prematurely closed (but any closure is always premature in the sense that it means death), forbidding alternative histories, other scripts, and political imagination; creating stereotypes, “identitarian” madness etc. The dynamics between the inertia of reason putting on the brakes (raison freinante) and its momentum, its movement (needing to be maintained open and fluid as much as possible) is inevitable. Therefore, we need to maintain the partage de la raison as its movement, but let’s not stop at reason definitively divided (partitioned) which distributes identities, because this distribution immediately establishes hierarchies, value, a hegemony, and through it a domination. Isn’t reason fundamentally normative ? We need to doubt of the  character always and in all things “conscious and individual-projectal” of rationality (il carattere « conscio e individualistico-progettuale » della razionalità, Marramao, “Ragione e identità”). Partition traverses reason as much as identity, and both; in the same way as it traverses everything, allowing for the production of difference. The production of differences is the condition of life. But discrimination – and violence – that is established and « justified » by it though not dictated by it – is lethal.  The agenda Samaddar writes about ( “Empire after…”, op. cit.) – of establishing/restoring states in order to keep peace, also influences, according to him, the form of the state as source of partition. Which the nation is…too. The state & the nation or identities” (ethnicity etc.) take turns and have a continuity in this. 

If[22] we add to this the fact that violence is the outcome of every act of self-founding of selfhood whether individually or collectively – what Baudrillard calls the « law of equivalence »[23] – and that this violence is a reaction to the « scandalous » truth that we are not self-generated (the fundamental suffering of the dominant subject)[24], the importance of lineage – of genealogy as a form of the split/sharing of reason – simply cannot be ignored: lineage sets sexual difference in the first rank of the differences entailing, via a process of calculated misapplication, inequalities in every field.  Itself a form of identification, this violence arises out of the principle of maintenance of the identical. To defuse it we must move towards de-identification, which blunts divided, inactive reason; we can then move towards split/sharing[25]. The felt need for a legitimacy, conceived as a supreme value, comes from the fact that the established legitimacy is not « natural,” that is to say the paternal function is indirect. In a matriarchal system – as Glissant points out, laconically emphasising this vital fact – « the legitimacy would have been ‘natural’ and so could not have been posited as a value »[26]. What interests him is how all this brings us to literature – literature always being the (officially excluded) other of reason, a founding fiction that enables us to advance. The discrepancy between the (conservative) linguistic system and the living language constitutes our opportunity[27].    The Socratic injunction[28] « know thyself », permanently rerouted or hijacked by the Christian West, according to Foucault in the sense of obedience and submission, actually rather invited for a « doing » originally ; doing something out of yourself, or making a work of art out of one’s life. Foucault after all wants to re-establish this both ethical and aesthetical dimension, or this aesthetical-existential aspect of ethics, without however evacuating the political[29]. What is at stake according to him is freeing oneself from the framework of attributed subjectivities. It is significant that European renaissance replaces god by the human (masculine) subject and makes the ego evolve in arts, while the development both of the portrait and of perspective in European visual arts, that follows it, accompanies the process of colonisation. A deep cleavage is at the same time instituted between the rational subject, agency, « man » ; – and his object, meaning irrational nature, the object of cognition and manipulation. « Woman » will  find herself by the side of the nature to be mastered. All of this is concomitant with the suffocation of affectivity, of the feminine within the self, with self-censorship and with the separation between and interior and an exterior, all of this both in painting and in the edification of morals and psychology. The masculine is confirmed as the opposite of nature and of those that are officially assigned to it (the “savages”, women, children) through a slice of the divine and of « knowledge », remarks Ashis Nandy, and it is so that sciences and technologies become in their turn the secular instruments of divine power[30]. This increasing masculinisation is contemporary with colonisation. It is not by chance that the process of a first modern and industrial individuation (for the male) is contemporary of the great territorial conquests, and that it is moreover expressed in painting through the development of the portrait. In philosophy, Descartes’ (1596-1650) cogito, parallelly, puts at the centre of reflection the self-observation of the subject, the already established ego. It is contemporary of  Rembrandt (1606-1669), the author of intimistic portraits and of individualistic self-portraits[31].  But the ego presupposes the partage of sexes (genders) and reproduces that of reason in constituting itself as subject. The enlargement of the limits of the known world was followed by the discovery of new freedoms, of the valorisation of the body (in favour of the witches, which are however persecuted at the same time), and of its opening up. Protestantism reacted to that through an inner closure and introducing into man a god with virile and hierarchical values, at the same time as the
New World was
discovered[32] as both churches joined into the territorial expansion. But Foucault signals that already  St. Augustin had introduced the inner line, the “consciousness”[33] part of religion announcing the same cleavage way before Renaissance, since the latter will only accentuate already existing features of European thought. While the Jews are driven out of Spain, and the Arabs are chased away more or less at the same time (the last ones maintain themselves in Granada up to 1492), Spain conquers the
New World.
Europe will go towards the others in the  mode of appropriation while it hunts other ones away from itself – and from themselves driving deep new forms of borders and boundaries. The bourgeois society and capitalistic relations both of the market and of the Nation-state will be constructed on that basis.
Europe produces its others both at the external level as well as on the internal level. As far as women are concerned, they are divided between these two levels. Many forms of resistance – though women may stand best at this – merely reproduce the binary relationship not allowing it to escape the violent conflict. 

Geographical conquests pretend to reconstruct a whole, reach out for « restoration » in our times or are executed under that guise (
R. Samaddar, “Empire…” op. cit.), while they also proceed through the amputation
of the inner other – which they themselves produce. This turning the clock back produces new cleavages expressed as ethnicisation but also expressed as a more conservative attitude all of a sudden to women, let alone to migrants etc. Divisions in giving different groups of the population different expectations regarding citizenship, produces profound cleavages not only between states, but within societies, and between different communities. It also contributes to new forms of communalism. This forced reconstruction opposes the partitioning that threatens the « identity principle » from all sides (including by women, dangerous classes, « wild » people, indigenous populations, « primitives », children, senior citizens, migrants, refugees, the non–documented and the poor). These exclusions are constructed, moreover, on a specific rational order not necessarily shared by all cultures, and especially not  necessarily shared by “savages”, the indigenous, the colonised – with whom it is often the conquerors that brought in, with a brutal Modernity, the dubious differentiation between working and playing
[34], between the private and the public, as well as a fractioned schizophrenic temporality together with enforced historicisation
[35]. The Socratic gnothi seauton, as shown by Foucault, culminated in the Western suicidal conversion to itself alone, suicidal because narcissistic[36]. 
It is also a detour towards oneself through the other by the means of an appropriation, and having oneself as the aim of one’s relation to the other. The same can be said of « protection » of those  « minors », minorities and the second-graded, of a « domination in their own interest »[37].  The subject must constantly produce antibodies (anti-corps) against this corrosion. The excessive utilisation of force by the conquistadores was fundamental: it is the excess of violence that operates appropriation, that renders legitimate and that recognises arrogance. The brutality, which alone can hitherto guarantee survival escalates[38].  It leaves to the victorious only the choice between death and – life thanks to violence, with no space for negotiation. Nietzsche  stressed well and with passion this threshold in philosophy, by showing the rapport existing between violence and self-violence of the subject in The Genealogy of Morals. It is his greatest merit to have understood that dichotomies limit thinking and prevent a breakthrough, even when through a counter-position, when the latter doesn’t interrogate the whole. It is with the « death of god »  and the sudden and irreparable responsabilisation of the human subject (agency), split over himself and become completely insecure, that the great division is manifested. Because the death of god that sets man on the stage as an epi-subject is at the same time a promised end of the latter through the scission introduced in him. The cæsure is certainly presented as, on one hand, rationality and, on the other, as religion or as interior/exterior, while reproducing the dichotomy. But that may not be the greatest of surprises. The surprise comes rather from the fact that reason from there on more than at any time before presents itself as partitioned and therefore as less reliable. There is then no possible recourse that isn’t itself an escalation, unless we accept the division of reason in order to operate a deconstruction of appropriative and self-founding thinking. At the same time, the “biological gets statalised[39]. This « statalisation » is a translation in territorial and geo-political terms of life processes involving time, a process of maturing, and it involves a certain freeze aimed at classifying, mastering, subduing and control. We see it for example in the way new border dispositions are introduced within Europe or on its behalf, which differentiate between grades or levels of citizenship[40] producing thereby both spatial and time divides; on an international level, the debate about the entry or not of Turkey into Europe is one such example. The way goods and capital are free to transit, while individuals and threatened populations are not, shows this paradox : it is now often rightist governments or officials (in France the former interior minister, and Chirac’s rival, Sarkozy) that can practically have a transnational view and largesse, while trade-unions and leftist parties are more entrenched on conservative nationalist positions wanting to prevent Turkey from entering Europe or foreign workers from immigrating, out of fear from competition. The historic movement of conquest and inferiorisation of continents, coming from the dominant position of (Western) man, was parallel to the efforts of cultivating the inner man[41] as well as to those of  « affining » the ideal bourgeois woman, constructed so as to express the subtlety of man, of the life-style, and in order to give a happy picture of a self-satisfied society while brutality reigns elsewhere. 

The elegance, the sophistication of woman, expression of the same cleavage,  is obtained (since the Renaissance lady) by her always greater sexual training (dressage) and by the prohibition, for her, much as for the indigenous populations in the colonies, of intelligence, of freedom and of citizenship tout court. Two parallel fragmenting “technologies” in the constitution of the subject are then available, at least since Renaissance (XVe et XVIe centuries). The one that takes into account the « external » dimension, and the one that will invest the « intimate » dimension “ :  the one constructing men, and the one constructing women, the latter parallel and concomitant with those constructing the Extra European Other.  Parallel to the conquering optimism at the end of the XIXth and at the beginning of the XXth centuries (until the end of the great economic crisis followed by WWI, then again by WWII, in any case), appears European nihilism : the collapse of certainties and values, the exhaustion of great systems, revolutionary insecurity, the dissolution of the subject, the discovery of the abyss of language as the landscape of its deficit, the loss of totality (and of the universal), the consolidation of a bourgeois class (and its intrinsic insecurity due to the working class, its other), the end of dynasties and empires. Super-man (le surhomme) and the underdog are their twin forms. God’s death and the subject’s crisis, the loss of certainties, of values, of aims and of foundations, announced since the collapse of foundations and the reconfiguring of sciences ever since the XIVth centuries and further by the construction of capitalism, followed by the mentioned evolution, have all prepared the way for Nietzsche. It is not by chance that his work presents itself in fragments. Nothing will assemble the bits and pieces any more. Life takes more and more its distance from human experience, to that extent that we can  feel it elsewhere of suffer from the lies of the present situation. This is already part of our daily experience in a constant manner. Radomir Konstantinović has well described this type of mechanism and has found the metaphor of the palanka  in order to express it in a general manner: it is the malaise of Modernity. This partition of Modernity cuts through the individual in every sense: woman separated from man, the subject (agency) separated from the citizen, the other appearing only as an object etc. hence, we are also ready for a meditation,  for ex-centration, for the dispossession of the self (more or less enforced), for the separation(s) of consciousness. 

From now on, when there is no, or when there is less ”exterior”, when the barriers of the Cold War have collapsed and when we cannot project our evil onto the other… what will be of the figures of the pariah ?  Can we reach out to the others on another mode than that of appropriation ? If and when we can, we overcome borders and partitions as an obstacle, and we prevail over the freezing construction of lethal and constituted exceptions, while letting us however be in the constituting mode, through the exceptional and different as a constant de

fiance. We need to reintegrate the exception.

[1] For a first version  of what follows, see R.Iveković, “Riflessione su confini e partitions in quanto eccezioni / Some Thoughts on Borders and Partitions as Exception” presented at the conference Confini / Grenzen organized by SISSCO in Bolzano-Bozen, on September  23–25, 2004, in Confini. Costruzioni, attraversamenti, rappresentazioni, ed. by Silvia Selvatici, SISSCO, Rubbettino, Soveria Manelli (Bolzano) 2005, pp. 219-233; the present updated version was presented at the conference Conflicts, Law, and Constitutionalism” organized by
Ranabir Samaddar and
Gilles Tarabout at the Maison des sciences de l’homme in Paris on February 16-18, 2005. 
Ranabir Samaddar : “Empire after Globalisation : Some Comments”, in Economic and Political Weekly, November 6, 2004. 

[3] The concept by the philosopher Radomir Konstantinović, in Filosofija palanke, Nolit, Belgrade 1981, denoting a state of mind as a void, a possible turning point, capable of all violence, but also open to choice: a situation common to different crisis of Modernity. I have written about this in my book Autopsia dei Balcani. Saggio di psico-politica, Raffaello Cortina, Milan 1999. 

[4] Rada Iveković, ARTICLES:  - « Nations et raisons », Confluences. Méditerranée » 6, Printemps 1993, pp. (97-109). – « Nationalism and Trans-National Identity. From Auschwitz to Sarajevo »,  Erewhon 1, 1994 (Amsterdam), pp. 42-53 ; – « L’autisme communautaire », Transeuropéennes, 9, 1997, pp. 65-71. – « L’espace public et
la transition. Vers quoi? »,
La Mazarine N°. 0, mai 1997, pp. G, 7-18. - »Exil et mondialisation », Transeuropéennes 12/13, 1998, pp. 63-68 ; - »Identitet, zajednica i nasilje », Treća 1, Vol.1, 1998 (Zagreb), pp. 21-29 ; - »La violenza della partizione », aut-aut 293-294, settembre-dicembre 1999 (Milan), pp. 68-78 ; - »Nazione e identità nella transizione postsocialista », Pluriverso 2/99 (Milan), pp. 33-44 ; - »Penser après 1989 avec quelques livres », Transeuropéennes 17, 2000, p. 152-162 ; BOOKS :  La balcanizzazione della ragione, Rome : Manifestolibri, 1995;  Autopsia dei Balcani.
Saggio di psico-politica
, op. cit. ; S. Bianchini,
S. Chaturvedi, R. Iveković,
R. Samaddar, Partitions. Reshaping States and Minds, Routledge 2005. 

[5] R. Iveković, “Erased Memories”, in: Counter-Hegmony 3, 2000, pp.61-68. 

Veena Das, Critical Events: an Antrhopological Perspective on Contemporary India, OUP
India 1996.

[7] Leonardo Paggi (ed. by), Storia e memoria di un massacro ordinario, manifestolibri, Roma 1996.

[8] Bianchini, Chaturvedi, Iveković, Samaddar, op. cit. 

[9] Entrevista por Miguel Angel Villena, « Los intelectuales han reflejado en los siglos XIX y XX la tensión permanente de las dos Españas », El Pais, « Babelia » 20-11-2004, p. 2-3. The review  at p. 9 of the same is by José Alvarez Junco, “Historias des las dos Españas, Santos Juliá,” Taurus.
Madrid, 2004». 

[10] See José M. Portillo Valdés, “how can a modern history of the basque country make sense? On Nation, Identity, and Territories in the Making of Spain”, manuscript; Bartolomé Clavero, “Nacionalismos en
la Unión Europea. Un aporte reflexivo en torno al hecho nacionalista y a cómo abordarlo en pleno siglo XXI”, in El Diario Vasco de Donostia-San Sebastián, 24-04-2004; “Entre desahuicio de fuero y quiebra de estatuto: Euskadi según el doble plan de Lendakari”, in Revista de estudios políticos, abril-mayo 2003.
[11]  B. Clavero, freedom’s law and oeconomical status: the euroamerican constitutional moment in the 18th century (a presentation to the european university institute)”, seminar in the Department of History and Civilisation of the European University Institute, Fiesole, Toscana, Italy, European Union, 28 February 2002. See also:
Ranabir Samaddar, “Dreams of the Colonised”, manuscript; by the same author: “The Last Hurrah that Continues”, in Transeuropéennes 19/20, 2001, pp. 31-49; “The Destiny of a Translated Constitutional Culture”, in Transeuropéennes 22, 2002, pp. 75-87;  “Utopia and Politics in Muslim Bengal”, in Transeuropéennes 23, 2003, pp. 193-219. 

[12] See the difference between the Indian and the Yugoslav construction : no Yugoslav nation was supposed to emerge, and thus no Yugoslav nation was encouraged by the authorities, while linguistic and other comparable regional differences in
India were all, more wisely, subsumed and inbuilt into the nation. R. Iveković, “From the Nation to Partition, Through Partition to the Nation”, in Transeuropéennes 19/20, 2000-01, pp. 201-225.

[13] Cf. Samaddar : “Empire after Globalisation”, cit.

Etienne Balibar, Droit de cité. Culture et politique en démocratie, Eds. l’aube, La Tour d’Aigues 1998;  Nous, citoyens d’Europe? Les frontières, l’Etat, le peuple, La découverte, Paris 2001; L’Europe, l’Amérique,
la guerre. Réflexions sur la médiation européenne,
La découverte, Paris 2003 ; J. M. Portillo Valdés, op. cit.; B. Clavero, Genocidio y justicia.
La Destrucción de las Indias, ayer y hoy, Marcial Pons Historia, Madrid 2002; R. Iveković, The Split of Reason and the Postcolonial Backlash”, forthcoming. 

[15] Words of Michel Laurent in an interview « Recherche : la mise en garde des présidents d’université », in Le Monde, December 17, 2004, p.12. 

[16] My papers R. Iveković, “From the Nation to Partition, Through Partition to the Nation”, in Transeuropéennes 19/20, 2000-01, pp. 201-225;  De la nation à la partition, par la partition à la nation, Europe and the Balkans International Network, Bologne & Longo Editore, Ravenna 2001, “Occasional Papers” n. 18. 

[17] Loraux, Nicole, Les enfants d’Athena. Idées athéniennes sur la citoyenneté et la division des sexes [Edition augmentée d’une postface, La Découverte 1990; Seuil 1990 pour la postface; 1ère éd. Maspero 1981] (Paris: Seuil, 1990²);  La Cité divisée. L’oubli dans la mémoire d’Athènes (Paris: Payot & Rivages 1997).  [18] My papers - »Dynamisme ou staticité dans la pensée indienne », Les Cahiers de philosophie 14, mai 1992; - »Voir/entendre », Les Cahiers du GRIF 46, printemps 1992, pp. 89-97; -„The Individual and the Collective vs. (Post-)Modernity and ‘Tradition’” in Kuckuck. Notizen zur Alltagskultur, N° 2, 2002,  Freiheit, pp. 8-11; -„Rodnost same subjektivacije“ in Dijalog N° 1-2, 2002, pp. 84-98; - »Horizons de l’entre-deux. Temps et (dis)continuité’, Détours d’écriture 17, « Nomades », pp. 247-258, N. Blandin 1992. 

[19] E. Varikas, «Le “paria” ou la difficile reconnaissance de la pluralité humaine», in Revue des deux mondes, novembre-décembre 1999, p. 353. 

[20] “Ragione e identità”, manuscript.

[21]  Hans Mayer, Outsiders. A Study in Life and Letters, The MIT Press,
Cambridge, Ma. 1982
Esther Cohen, Le Corps du diable.
Philosophes et sorcières à la renaissance, Lignes/Léo Scheer, Paris 2004; Tumultes N° 21/22, « Le Paria : une figure de la modernité », novembre 2003, Tumultes N° 23, « Adorno.
Critique de
la domination. Une lecture féministe »,
 novembre 2004. 

[22]  The following section comes from my paper “On Whether to Acknowledge the Split/Sharing of Reason” in Transeuropéennes N° 23, 2003, pp. 259-278.

[23] Jean Baudrillard, « La violence de la mondialisation », in Le Monde diplomatique, novembre 2002, p. 18. 

[24]  R. Iveković & J. Mostov (eds.), From Gender to Nation, Zubaan 2003.

[25] Zalkind Hourwitz, Apologie des Juifs (1789), Introduction de Michael Löwy et
Eleni Varikas, Syllepse, Paris, 2002. 

[26] Edouard Glissant, Poétique de la Relation, Gallimard, 1990. 

[27] Arild Utaker, La philosophie du langage. Une archéologie saussurienne, PUF, Paris, 2002,  pp. 139. 

[28] The following section comes from my book Dame Nation. Nation et différence des sexes, Longo Editore, Ravenna 2003, p. 19 ff, “LE PRINCIPE D’IDENTITE ET D’AUTOGENERATION. LES IDENTITES”.

 [29] Concretely, Foucault situates it in different social movements he witnesses and is interested in. 

[30] A. Nandy,  Traditions, Tyranny and Utopias. Essays on the Politics of Awareness,
Delhi, OUP 1987, p. 81. Gyan Prakash, Another Reason. Science and the Imagination of Moden India, 
University Press, 1999. 
 [31] Perspective and the portrait reach their maturity in
at Renaissance and translate the arrival of a Modernity both bourgeois and urban, and soon industrial. This is not denying the beginnings of perspective, to say nothing of its stammerings at
Pompeii, and later in Giotto who preceded Dürer and Brunelleschi. Also, the XIVth century sees the beginning of portrait in Italy, in the region of Bohemia and in France, to say nothing of its old antecedents in ancient Egypt, Greece or in
Rome, and later in court portraits. But in painting, Rembrandt as well as Dürer precede and represent together the equivalent of what Descartes is in philosophy. 

     [32] In the proliferation of evangelical churches today in the
Third World, women frequently collaborate to the introduction of a new rigid structure of society and of a neo-communalisation. These churches can also organise ethnicisation. It apparently brings to womenfolk some order in oppression « which is there anyhow » in that it protects them from the male arbitrary « individual » will, the enemy of each woman. The evangelical churches forbid drinking, it is therefore welcome (the neo-zapatistas as well as the Maoist guerrillas in
Nepal do the same). That evangelical churches have also fomented counter-insurgent violence is not the least  of the contradictions of
Guatemala and many other countries. 

     [33] M. Foucault, Dits et Ecrits 1954-1988, t. IV, and the whole chapter “Sexualité et solitude”. I thank Arild Utaker for signalling it to me. See also J.-F. Lyotard, La Confession d’Augustin, Paris, Galilée 1998. 

[34] Ashis Nandy, “Towards a Third World Utopia”, in Traditions, Tyranny and Utopias, p. 42. 

[35]  By “historicisation” I mean the historicism of a “historicising history” privileging an oriented “progressive” history line and distributing labels of  “modern” and “premodern” or “traditional”, the latter meaning “underdeveloped”. The idea is of only one possible historic scenario.

Fabio Ciaramelli, La distruzione
del desiderio.
Il narcissismo nell’ epoca del consumo di massa, Bari, Dedalo 2000. 

M. Spensky, in
M. Spensky (ed.), Universalisme, particularisme et citoyenneté dans les Iles Britanniques, Paris, L’Harmattan 2000, p. 138. 

[38] R. Konstantinović, op. cit.  [39] « Le biologique s’étatise », M. Foucault, “Il faut défendre la société”. Cours au Collège de France. 1976, Gallimard/Seuil 1997, (cours du 17 mars 1976) pp. 213-235. 

[40] From the non-citizenship and refoulement of migrants and refugees, to the differed European citizenship of the inhabitants of new member states, who have the right to travel within Europe, but will not have for some years the right to work elsewhere; except for subleased work organised and state-controlled for whole groups /by the way of Poles, citizens of a new member-state, as much as of Maghrebians!/ of people who have no rights, no benefits whatsoever etc., not to count all those drowned in the Mediterranean in their passage.

     [41] Some, indeed, like L. Wittgenstein  or like all those that, in the West, reach out for Buddhism etc., will look at it for therapeutical remedies. 

Publié dans Chapitre, Livre | Commentaires fermés

Ethnicization and the Nation. A Politics of Philosophy (Chapter 2/6)

Posté par radaivekovicunblogfr le 30 octobre 2009

Apart fromt the separate presentation on this site of the unpublishd book A politics of philosophy,  the latter starts here from its second chapter. The site is under construction and the chapters too. The first chapter of A Politics of Philosophy will not appear here, as it has been shortened and transformed into a paper for the online journal Transeuropéennes, That paper is titled « A Politics of Philosophy since Modernity. Indian and Western philosophies ».

 ©rada iveković


Ethnicization and nation in the making of larger integrations – (on the Identity principle)[1] 

The turning point of 1989 has shaken Europe and is affecting its construction. In the sense that the end of the Cold War period from that year on has rendered overtly visible and further undeniable the irreversible process of globalization, it is also part and parcel of the general reconfiguration of power, economy and communication on the whole planet. That is furthermore  the point in time from which more than one analogy can be drawn between the post-socialist condition and the post-colonial condition  in the first place, but from which a complementarity and mutual dependence can now clearly be seen between these two processes as well as the deep crisis of the Western Welfare State – of welfare, that is, more than of the state as such. And, more generally, of the state itself in the sense that its functionalities and role are changing. In addition, the linking of state and nation is reinterrogated, as territoriality is bypassed by new tasks taken on by the state, and as the “nation” makes new didentitarian claims. Nevertheless, our imagination is still to a great extent “national” even as it is “international” instead of being transnational.  We have relied until the cold war on three general patterns: the western state (let’s call it “real capitalism” or the “really existing democracy”), the socialist state (“real socialism” or “popular democracies”) and the state in the third world. In all three cases, the “transition” (much more blurred in the case of the “West”), though undefined, is supposed to be that towards an unquestioned western capitalist model, rather neo-liberal (in the European continental sense of the term). Clearly, we will soon need to redefine the unsatisfactory term of “post-colonialism” with regard to this parentage, but also with a view to other historic reasons and to the coloniality of power as such. While the colonial and the socialist/communist Modernity is considered to have been a failure and maybe a side-product of Western Modernity, the latter – which is the starting point of the Western Capitalist pattern – is still proposed as the best and indeed the only one to follow, this time by erasing decades of local history and by starting anew from zero. Thus the end of the Cold War represents a second important breach after that of Modernity. As the latter, it also proposes a discontinuity to non hegemonic cultures, economies, histories, languages, but within it, a shorter term gap that could more easily be bridged. The rupture of the Cold War deals with a historic “delay” imagined to be of a few decades, while that of Modernity dealt with the time span from antiquity till the future (the whole arrow of time) and with a principled unequal footing. The violence in store through this levelling of time and history is rarely foreseen. Through it, the nation produces its minorities, as the state fabricates its regionalisms and sometimes its secessions.[2] The comparative analysis of the cases of violent partitions, such as that of India in the forties or of the former Yugoslavia in the nineties of the 20th century,[3] shows however that the patterns of ethnicization which resulted from both the conflicts cross the lines of a supposed “pre-modernity” to become the features created by completely “modern” and “post-modern” conditions, such as the constitution of Europe for example[4], and are more or less the same This happens in a “post- modern” levelling of the historic conditions whereby similar processes of racism, ethnicisation, regionalism, communalism, diversification, atomisation, religious and other fundamentalism together with secession etc. and supported by economic processes of globalization, represent the flipside of the great integrating processes. What we are facing with the three types of state are really three intertwined failures which usually go under the “triumphal” heading of the western capitalist pattern (sometimes itself described as the natural evolution or extension of the Welfare State): the undeniable breakdown of the socialist state in Eastern Europe, the (near) malfunction of the welfare state in the West, the collapse of the first post-colonial states (non-racial and secular) in the Third World. The three worlds were really one.  There were some similarities in the second and the third world, at least at the level of projects and utopias. These were sometimes called Marxist or Socialist in both camps, but they covered a whole range of different situations resulting from differing historic conditions. Both started as revolutionary in the sense that they represented a radical breach with local capitalism, feudalism or colonialism. For example, they shared some ideals about social equality and justice, about repairing injustice to the downtrodden, about a non-racial and non-nationalistic order (though the practice may have been different). They emphasized social and collective rights (not that these are the same) over political and individual rights (again, not that these are the same). In many cases (especially in the Third World) they didn’t have the means of the first – of collective and social rights, while they neglected the second – political and individual rights – in the name of patriotic homogenization. They failed in achieving their goals so far, and some of them produced new situations of colossal injustice, repressive regimes, totalitarianism etc.  But the similarities of the post-socialist and the post-colonial situation do not lay only in a supposed liberation from conditions of servitude and of domination by one nation over another (as post-communist nationalists of different denomination would have it). Rather, there are some similarities (and this is shared by the West too, though the degrees may vary) inherent to the difficulties and the obstacles in the way of the constitution of autonomous political subjects (agents) and thus of independent and responsible citizenship in the new, post-modern conditions. Not to speak of situations where, with the opening of vast new and unsuspected virtual spaces , of new forms of socialization due to mass migrations and globalization, as well as of generally closing ecological-economic options and failure of representational politics where knowledge and networks are absorbed, through bodies, within both capital and subjectivity, and where new political forms need to be invented. Political subjects are called citizens when it comes to the state, and refer to national state sovereignty and hierarchy, also to governance by a latter figure, through their limited autonomy of which indeed, the confines are not acknowledged. The way these obstacles arise may not be the same in the case of the second and of the third world. Yet, there is a general tendency emphasized today – corroborated by an age-old leaning – to resist alternative and autonomous subject-constitution or to limit it without saying so, and to resent open citizenship (not conditioned by class, ethnic or national, age, gender or other determinations) of those who are not already “in”. The process of gradual democratization will rather allow for the active citizenship of some groups, while trying to maintain outside the political scope others (regardless of the universal intention of the constitution, for example), and, in general, “the masses”. The machine resisting this subject-constitution is on the one hand the community (including the nation), on the other the state. The nation resists fiercely its own evolution towards a society, acting here, in its capacity as a community in the narrow sense, as an ally of the state. The state refuses to accept as much as possible, and through ever new devices, that for which it is at the same time still de facto the only possible framework – a society of transcommunal citizens acting in common and in solidarity through individual and shared responsibility. The first grade of resistance of the state and of the community to the transformation of the tribal or ethnic mentality into a society, is their intervention in the reconfiguration of patriarchy, through the creation of new “traditions”. These relations are the first to be renegotiated so as to represent a preliminary “contract” for any other rapport. Naturally, this happens through a narrative, a dominant political discourse and ideology, and, where deemed necessary, also through laws.[5] We thus see patriarchies renegotiated everywhere, especially in violently modernizing societies, as if the condition of women and their dress were by far the main political issue. Some real social and political advances for women are paid by them through wardrobe compromises and moral-ideological submission. The benefit of such bargains for them is relative and locally defined, incalculable in comparative and absolute terms, or – untranslatable. What interferes in such translation too, is the normative character of “the political”.  In some countries of Eastern Europe and of the former
Yugoslavia, the reconfiguration and redistribution of power and patriarchy after the fall of the socialist regimes, during conflict and in the establishment of new ethnocracies, resulted in a quick consensus passed between former and new elites and stakeholders (who are often the same people). The transition in these countries represents often a serious setback for women, including in the sphere of rights and not only in the standard of living, considering the egalitarian rights previously accorded them in socialism (esp. the rights regarding their body, their formal individual citizenship and work). This is so against the general economic, systemic setback (including the decrease of life-expectancy for men) in those countries, due to wars, extreme pauperization, the growing of mafias and the breakdown of institutions. In such conditions, the standard of living, both individual and collective, has fallen for everyone. But given the traditional role of women as menders of the social link, nurturer, caring for the survival of the family, they have been struck hard if not harder when the traditional mothering role of the socialist state, once addressed to everyone, has crumbled to pieces overnight (social services, education, health etc. are all of a sudden no more free and have to be paid for). This comes in addition to the “retraditionalisation” of values, the loss of equality and access to the public sphere for women, with the militarization, primitivization, “vulgarization” and mafiazation of society, and to women’s massive loss of jobs. Post-socialist transition is not such a big achievement as far as women are concerned, either in Eastern Europe or in China. Their access to the exercise of citizenship is again prevented and diverted over a rhetoric of retrograde “family values”, misogynous speech and boasting with hyper-virile and military features. 
  The European Union is being constructed as a regional trans-national organization of states geographically open towards
Asia and having to reconfigure and redefine its boundaries to the East. Turkey is being constructed as the big obstacle on the part of France and Germany especially. The real question is, who will be included, and who excluded? The divide has been fought over the past 20 years in the Balkans, and it is generally understood that some countries of the Second World (the former Socialist Block) are included (though not all), but so far no Third World country (Cyprus and Malta come nearest to the latter, but the former has been absorbed over Greece directly into the First World – “developed” – and it is by the same token kept partitioned). The construction of
Europe is itself taking place within the very process of globalization which has become visible to the general public and common knowledge since 1989. Globalization is characterized by greater integration processes at one end (such as Europe and general globalization, i.e. the universalization of Western Modernity) and at the same time by disintegration processes at the other end, described as processes of racialization, ethnicisation, regionalism, communalism, diversification, atomization, together with secession and partitions. These are not contradictory but complementary processes. Yet within a state, and within a regional unification project such as Europe, the first aspect (unification) will combat the second aspect of the process in order to be able to carry further, and also in order to preserve in power the ruling elites. The constituted power, however temporary or limited, will resist further drives of the constituting power and will be opposed to it. One could say that unity itself requires bifurcations and requires then to hold and encompass them. Furthermore,
Europe has for a long time been only an economic project of the rich boys’ club. Only through the years of the Yugoslav conflict has Europe been confronted with its responsibility to its outer borders and neighbouring countries, and this only when it perceived this conflict as a threat. Before the fatidic 1989 year, Europe never had a project of gradually including other countries to the East, mainly thought to safely belong to the Socialist block. This inclusion, if not gradual, planned, willed and organized, was going to produce violence and wars, as was seen from the Yugoslav example. Because it had no such concept of a gradual enlargement, but of closing its borders around its own Fortress, Europe was itself not a political subject in international affairs (member countries were so to different degrees) and could not intervene in the Balkan war. There was no European common political will or government. This is where the United States stepped in, much to the displeasure of most European leaders (except those of Great Britain) and of a great part of the European public opinion. This is also where “globalization” comes in, the slow constitution of a political Europe (not yet complete, but more ahead now), being as much part of it as the series of wars in the Balkans. Europe, in its construction, should now think of how to conceptualize its citizenship as transnational: but this doesn’t seem to be an official option. It tries to bar access to immigrants from the South and from the East (its former colonies), while at the same time it needs new skilled labour. The Germans have at least acknowledged the latter by introducing a selection, with quotas and categories of skilled immigrants for
India which puts into question some ethical principles as well as the very concept of European citizenship. This pattern is likely to be followed by others. One after the other, European countries are redefining their borders and visa politics for immigrants from the South and from the East, while there is a general tendency to cooperate in the field of repressive policies barring immigration. This is enhanced by criminalizing foreigners and migrants, depoliticizing and ethnicizing immigrant communities or citizens of foreign descent. In

France, the issue of the supposed “islamist” veil of underage girls in school triggered a wave of claims for human and civic rights from the Republic, as well as by reaction an ethnicizing resistance to those claims by hardcore nationalist circles. “Collateral damage” was suffered by a few Sikh boys in French schools, who had to pay the price of the French type of secularism (for “ostentatious religious signs”) along with the veils girls[6]. The Sikhs were actually completely unknown to the French and were discovered on that occasion.  The concept of missing citizen in analogy with the concept of missing women for India, should be introduced for
Europe, possibly with a gradation for silenced citizens.  Missing citizens – missing to Europe as possible citizens are all those migrants, sometimes on the road to
Europe for years – who never make it. We hear figures about the drowned in the Mediterranean or near the Canary Islands every day, but who will calculate the scandal of the total missing citizenry as a price for European citizenship? That violence of Europe borders has been accepted by public opinion at large, and the numbers are not heeded nor added to give a general idea of the phenomenon. 

The proportions taken within Europe by the discourse on securitatian “citizenship” today, contributing to enforcing a police state and also a police society “by securitarian consensus” in order to control the new poor and the immigrants/refugees, and the “extra-communitarians” in the first place, show well that the inner policy is part of a larger position held also on the external level of foreign policy, configuring a whole in the construction of the European Union. This also goes over regionalisation which has taken a new turn since 1989.[7] Whereas before this date the regions were purely local, the Europe-of-the-regions operates nowadays through the exacerbation of closed ethnic identities. The latter have the tendency to ignore or to carve out differently national borders while favouring ethnic, linguistic and cultural borders and creating a new “tradition”. They divide, ethnicize and sexuate the nation, represent the right to citizenship in ethnic terms, and are closely linked rather to the right side of the political spectrum than to the centre. They do it through reinventing foundation myths. The dismantlement of the former
Yugoslavia was also part of such a process. In the West, this regionalism brings about micro-nationalisms from the bottom, but it serves the purpose of globalization whenever using it (for transborder business, rather than to let migrants move freely in).  The revision of the Welfare State through its ethnicization (social incentives given only to nationals, as was the case in a town held by the Front National for a time in France, or as J. Haider had introduced in his native place in Austria, for example) is on the agenda and increasingly accepts co-existence in the sense of apartheid. It goes as far as invoking multiculturalism in view of a project of federalism of ethnic units, as do some rightist parties and movements in northern
Italy. In the meantime, the populist Berlusconi is still there in Italy though somewhat shaken, allied with xenophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-welfare forces, and it seems as if there too Europe will develop to the best of its worst capacities. While some big cities valiantly resist, the European left in general has not been capable of recomposing itself and unifying for whatever elections. Comparable situations are in preparation elsewhere in Western Europe. 

The type of discourse proposed by these new champions of an ethnocentric,  populist, rightest, anti-immigrant and anti-welfare
Europe should be carefully scrutinized. The ethnicist story, which is also macho and has the primary function of enforcing a clear separation between men and women in order to enforce the general social hierarchy and distance between “us” and “them”, is a closed  narrative. It is an identitarian determinist tale by which the contents of the identity in question are given in advance through an official and only version of a unique and absolute truth (which, however, may come through a regional local leader). There is usually a unique and one-dimensional interpretation of an original event (as if the event were in itself accessible) as that what happened, an arrested story. All the multiple possibilities of the event (what could have happened) are discarded and reduced to one sole interpretation which is also the fixation (the falsification) of the event into a “unique truth”, so that not only the past, but also the future, is univocal and in the hands of the narrator. This type of discourse takes the outcome of a conflict for its causes, and its circularity will not let history open as a matter of choice of all the agents at each moment, but will produce a History as determinism.[8] Also, it manifests an ingenuity (naïveté) regarding the language and its own capacity to escape language’s functioning, as if the idiom’s and the order‘s power mechanisms didn’t apply to it (to the discourse). As if it could pretend to be the exception to the rule within the laws of language-power that produce nomination, domination, exclusion etc., and as if language were not the institution we are born into and which shapes hierarchies. 
The appropriating function of language is the reason why any freedom battle has also to be fought through language and must try and reinvent its propositions; and why any new “identity” has to give itself a narration about its “origin” as well as about its aim. The hope for a democratic solution remains with recognizing one’s debt and origin in alterity. Deriving the origin from a unique source and a unilinear genealogy settles for a determined future by drawing it from an arrested history. On the contrary, opening the past to multiplicity is also a chance for the future of women and men. We should try and get away from history as fatality, even in the difficulties and setbacks recognized in any present situation. 

The case of the Indian subcontinent and of India is good to compare with Europe for their comparable size. It is true that we don’t have any direct  integration process in South Asia, but rather the effects of a prolonged partition. Yet there still is a recognizable regional dynamics as inner matters in one country cross the borders in their implications. In India, nationalism chose to follow the “religious sect model” rather than that of properly social stratifications (imaginary or real), or rather than an approach which, at first glance, would have been clearly identified as political by western – rather narrow – criteria[9]. Thus, for the nationalists, the model of the nation is precisely that of the (religious) community. In
India, the central issue following the struggle for independence lies in the balance of forces between Hindu nationalism and Indian nationalism. The latter was represented at the time of liberation by the secularism of the Congress party, and by Nehru himself. The de-legitimation of this Nehru-inspired, secular model of the state and society started in the 1980s, in spite of the important role played by culture in the preservation of national unity, and this tendency joined up with the nationalist Hindu current, whose origins went back to the middle of the nineteenth century (but also to the quarrel over Ayodhya, which reached its apogee in 1992 when the mosque at that site was destroyed in favour of the temple). Though this was not predestined, and in the absence of any new project, the erosion of Indian secularism had been  hastened, on the one hand, by Indira Gandhi’s repression and, on the other hand, by the political exploitation of religious cleavages, both of which militated against a more substantial form of democracy. And here we might add that this period of discomfiture of the secular project (which was that of the initial decolonisation period) ended up in the globalist framework at the same time that the cold war was ending and “real socialism” was disappearing. At least in Europe, the end of the latter, was spurred on by a similar resistance to democratisation on the part of the various oligarchies which, in both contexts, attempted to preserve their privileges by adopting a nationalist type of discourse. This convergence appears to us to be significant, and not at all fortuitous: it would seem to be a global process[10]. The failure of secular politics is nowadays generalized through a generalized balkanization.

In Eastern Europe and in the West, nationalism has been discredited by Nazism, and also recently by the explosion of various belligerent nationalisms, such as in the former Yugoslavia. But since the struggle for independence, in India as in other formerly-colonised countries, nationalism has been a positive, liberating concept: it is the one that was destined to bring about the interlocking independence of the nation and the state, the nation being at the service of the state more often than the opposite. Nationalism, as an emancipating force whose spirit of resistance was forged during the long colonial period, is ambiguous about the differences between the sexes, which it uses nevertheless in establishing its hierarchies of nations. And it is important to be clear about this, because the hierarchy of the sexes tends to present itself as archetypal, in the sense that it underlies and determines all the other hierarchies in its role of supervising “racial purity”. The control of sexuality is a very persuasive means of coercion in any framework whatever, and it takes precedence over the state[11]. It is the colony that brings to fruition and sets up the state which is later to become independent. The colony brings about an ambiguous, displaced form of modernity that is supposed to be applied to “pre-modern” conditions. It thus produces results that are politically, socially and culturally different from those to be found in the West. The colonisers are members of societies which like to think of themselves as democratic and universalist (but which do not apply these principles in the territories they occupy)[12]. All of this has the effect of expelling the subject from his/her traditional community, thus inducing the latter to attempt a reformulation of social ties (which is always based on a reconstitution and adjustment of the patriarchate). This can take place either through a more or less conservative or obscurantist “re-traditionalisation” (re-communalisation), or through an attempt on the part of the subject to make a “free” choice within the society (a more modern, conflict-ridden choice, and possibly, at most, the outline of a modern patriarchal society). Communalist modes of distribution of power can very well co-exist with a statist – or even a modern – mode of organisation of power, so that the two do not take place on the same level, but rather intersect[13]. With the state, however, there is also the separation of private and public power, although this pattern does not correspond to forms of organization of labour and social interdependencies. And it is here that one gets a direct glimpse of the fact that “power is naked”, and that “the universal is empty”. Henceforth, the father is only the head of the family, wielding more or less arbitrary individual power in the home, whereas for the colonial state he may be the enemy, the subaltern, the dissident, etc. Colonialism weakens this “local” father. And so the father, who in principle is a figure of domination, takes revenge on his dependents; for example, he can re-establish the hierarchy by attaching his personal power to that of a resistance movement, which thereby becomes an accomplice of oppression by the family, the caste and the community. Liberation on one front does not automatically mean liberation on another front, and, according to the circumstances, it can take on ever-new configurations. J. Habermas seems to be unaware of the ambivalence of this conditional, transplanted modernity (which is nonetheless often  a resourceful force for liberation, however incompletely, in non-European contexts) when, buoyed up with optimism, he talks about the social reconfiguration that takes place “with each advance”: “With each new advance in modernisation, intersubjectively-experienced worlds open up, reorganise themselves and close down again. This change in form is at the heart of classical sociology, which gives ever-new descriptions of the phenomenon: from status to contract, from the primary group to the secondary group, from community to society, from mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity, etc. The impulse to open up comes from new markets, new resources, new lines of communication.”[14]  “Identity”, though nothing precise or lasting in itself, is a construct which, once fixed, helps homogenize around and defend some power. Some identities (gender, ethnic etc.) may be used in the construction of other identities (nation, state). Identity is claimed, group solidarity played-out and the identity principle maintained only where power is at stake and in the function of power. 
Rather than build his identity through a process of differentiation and individuation that relies on exchange and interaction, on individuation and on becoming a subject and a citizen, the aggressive type (the Hindu nationalist, the Serbian or Croatian nationalist) seeks immediate exclusion – violence and war. He can, paradoxically, try to compensate the sense of insufficiency only by increasing the doses of death and violence. Time offers all the possibilities, that of violence, and that of not: but all its virtual possibilities never occur, never become reality. By confiscating time, the time of life itself (by killing, waging war etc), the violent never allow for a bifurcation in history, for the other virtualities to be concretized. They leave us only with a « continuity » of visible occurrences which fabricate time as unilinear and determined if not determinist, and violence as seemingly unavoidable. This gives them a mastery over time spans, over the lives of others, power to control occurrences and history, the power of violence which is « grace » and the status of exception attributed to oneself as a perpetrator of crimes enjoying self-attributed impunity. As the philosopher Radomir Konstantinović says, « the lesser the sentiment of reality, the greater the necessity for violence ».[15] Resorting to security in groups and relying on violence is a clear sign of seeking a lost totality, and the sign of a loss of the « universal ». It is also the loss of the thread of continuity in/of the same. Violence may itself be the sheer attempt to overcome the frightening paradoxical situation and fact by which we are born of the other and not of ourselves. It may be the mere quest for the identity principle, un-interrupted.[16] The first violence is already birth, the separation necessary for the individuation to come. And Europe is resorting to such “group security” in its Schengen zone, in the closure of its borders, in the various buffer zones on its borders where candidate countries to access are asked to make the selection and play the European policemen in anticipation of their future inmate status. This simple and spreading European mechanism is a pre-emptive attempt to “be bore(e) within”. It saves from inner violence but exports the latter to the outer brink. 

[1] An early version of the present paper was presented at the Second South Asian Human Rights and Peace Studies Orientation Course organized by the South Asia Forum for Human Rights in Kathmandu 1-15 September 2001. It draws on my article “From the nation to partition, through partition to the nation”, Ghislaine Glasson Deschaumes &
R. Ivekovic (eds.), Divided Countries, Separated Cities. The Modern Legacy of Partition,
Delhi, OUP 2003, pp. 150-175
, as well on my own contribution to the joint introduction  to From Gender to Nation, ed. by de R. Iveković & J. Mostov, Europe and the Balkans Institute, Longo Editore, Ravenna 2002; reprint by Kali for Women Zubaan, Delhi 2004. 
R. Samaddar, The Marginal Nation. Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal, Sage Publications,
New Delhi/Thousand Oaks/London 1999. For a concrete example:
R. Samaddar, “Nagaland’s past in the crystal ball”, in: The Telegraph, 17-11-1999. Also :  States, Citizens and Outsiders. The Uprooted People of South Asia, ed. by Tapan K. Bose & Rita Manchanda, SAFHR, Kathmandu 1997. 
[3] See Divided Countries, Separated Cities, op. cit. on partitions, and La Mazarine  N° 15, Winter 2001, “Le post-colonialisme: d’une revolution à une autre”. [4] Ivan Iveković, A Political Economy of Contemporary Ethno-national Mobilization. Ethnic and Regional Conflicts in Yugoslavia and Transcaucasia, Longo Editore, Ravenna, 2000; Miloš Minić, Dogovori u Karadjordjevu o podeli Bosne i Hercegovine, Rabić,
Sarajevo 1998;  M. Minić, Ratovi na Kosovu (1998/1999) i u Čečniji (1994/1996), Rabić, Sarajevo 2000. See
Etienne Balibar, Nous, citoyens d’Europe?
Les frontières, l’Etat, le peuple, la découverte, 2001. 
[5] Though the consensus, regarding women in particular is sometimes so strong that it requires no law. Also, a law may contradict the universality of a constitution in the name of the more widely recognized universality of the subordination of women, as is the case in Algeria (but in other places too, though here it is blunt), where the Family Law (Code de la famille) of 1983 is in total contradiction with the Constitution according equal rights to all citizens. [6] Rada Iveković, “The Veil in France: Secularism, Nation, Women” in Economic and Political Weekly, Bombay, March  13, 2004. [7] Bruno Luverà, “Europa delle regioni – tra collaborazione transfrontaliera e nuovi nazionalismi di confine”, intervention at the conference “Sconfinare. Differenze di genere e di culture nell’Europa di oggi”, Universtity of Urbino,  9-10 November, 2000, in Sconfinare,
Laura Piccioni (a cura di), Edizioni Goliardiche, Urbino 2002
. The ideas until the end of the paragraph come from there. By the same author: I confini dell’odio. Il nazionalismo etnico e la nuova destra europea, Editori Riuniti, Roma 1999, and: Il Dottor H. Haider e la nuova destra europea, Einaudi, Torino 2000.See also the excellent
Paolo Rumiz, La secessione legera. Dove nasce la rabbia del profondo Nord, Editori Riuniti, Roma 1998; and, R. Iveković, La balcanizzazione della ragione, manifestolibri, Roma 1995. 
R. Samaddar , “Birth of a Nation”, in
R. Samaddar (ed.), Reflexions on the Partition in the East, Vikas,
Delhi 1997. 
[9] Ch. Jaffrelot, Les Nationalistes hindous. Idéologie, implantation et mobilisation des années 1920 aux années 1990 (Paris: Presse de
la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1993), pp. 43, 58. 

[10] This in no way justifies an identification between the first phase of decolonisation of third-world countries and the second phase in Eastern Europe (after the fall of the Berlin wall), seen as a “decolonisation from socialism”, contrary to what nationalists and ethnocrats from  this region have claimed. 

[11]  Partha Chatterjee, “More on Modes of Power and the Peasantry”, in R. Guha and
G. Chakravorty Spivak (eds.), Selected Subaltern Studies (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 363.

[12] Maurice Goldring, “Irlande, droits collectifs et droits individuels”, in
M. Spensky (ed.), Universalisme, particularisme et citoyenneté dans les Iles Britanniques ( Paris : L’Harmattan, 2000), p. 112. 

[13]  Partha Chatterjee, “More on Modes of Power and the Peasantry”, in R. Guha and
G. Chakravorty Spivak (eds.), Selected Subaltern Studies, op. cit., pp. 351-390.

[14] Jürgen Habermas, Die postnationale Konstellation. Politische Essays, Frankfurt a/M.: Suhrkamp 1998; quoted in the French translation  Après l’Etat-nation, Paris: Fayard 2000, pp. 80-81. 

[15] R. Konstantinović, Filozofija palanke,
Beograd, Nolit 1981 (first ed. 1969), p. 67. 

[16] R. Iveković, “Borders, Partitions and Disappearances (India, Yugoslavia, Guatemala)”, manuscript, and “Disparitions, mémoire, oubli: La violence au Guatemala”, in A. Brossat, J.-L. Déotte (eds.), L’époque de la disparition. Politique et esthétique, L’Harmattan, paris 2000, pp. 155-175.

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A Politics of Philosophy. A Presentation for publishers (Instead of Chapter 1/6)

Posté par radaivekovicunblogfr le 30 octobre 2009

On this page, the book A Politics of Philosophy consists in all of 6 « chapters ». Apart fromt the separate presentation (appearing as « Chapter 1″) of the unpublishd book A politics of philosophy,  the latter actually starts here from its second chapter. The site is under construction and the chapters too. The first chapter of A Politics of Philosophy will not appear here, as it has been shortened and transformed into a paper for the online journal Transeuropéennes, That paper is titled « A Politics of Philosophy since Modernity. Indian and Western philosophies ». 

An unpublished book: 

©rada iveković

A Politics of Philosophy / A Politics of Reason

[This is a book in view of the epistemological revolution to come]

What is this book about and what is its objective :

This book is about the politics of philosophy ; it deals with the relation between Western and Indian philosophy (as well as, in principle, with other non-western philosophies) in a novel and original way, in the perspective of politics. In so doing, it also considers gender, sociology, history, partition, transition, translation. It is innovative conceptually and methodologically. It has a rich, substantive content and it is rigorous. It is also an author’s book with explicit theoretical interest and a few surprises. It deploys an interplay between diverse thinking traditions.

What to learn from this book ?

We should learn that any philosophy has a politics of philosophy guiding it, though usually unacknowledged. The relation of western and Indian philosophy has not really been studied in a political perspective. We shall explore the politics versus Indian or other thinking traditions guiding philosophy in general, and western philosophy in particular. This is worth knowing because it may contribute to decolonizing philosophy as such and because it may give us methodological instruments for detecting other kinds of bias in philosophy and in culture. More importantly, it may help us construct a new common ground for philosophy beyond comparative philosophy – and a new philosophical corpus – fed by and relying on concepts and conceptual histories from different parts of the globe. The book gives examples and evidence from reading of various texts or historic events and from interpretation by the author of how these conclusions are valid.

Some of the main points raised :

In India too, when we say “philosophy”, we generally mean western philosophy, and we have to specify “Indian” when dealing with Indian philosophy (generally understood as solely “ancient”). This book addresses the asymmetrical relationship of the two, as well as the asymmetrical relation of western philosophy to any thought of any other geographical origin. It gives some methodological clues for these issues which the author believes to be primarily political (a politics of thinking), but it does so while working on contemporary textual or political material ranging from a variety of fields. It is an author’s book presenting her own philosophical theories too, drawing on, and engaging with, philosophies Indian and western and with the sensitive rapport between the two. It explores and analyses the historic fact that the “west” is not only an outer world for India, but also partly its inner condition (and possibly vice-versa too in another way), due to the universalization of western patterns. Indian philosophy, however, is not directly the topic of the book ; it is rather its main parameter.

Many philosophical concepts we all use have their western origin in ancient Greece (and certainly further, in many other unacknowledged sources pumped by the Greeks) ; many of them depend on the local history of the Greek polis. They are also intimately linked to the western imagination and self-representation. The same is true of concepts of Indian philosophy, which are also dependent on local history and imagination. For the latter, it is particularly difficult to travel across the borders of international philosophies, beyond the western stereotypes of oriental mysticism or spirituality, because in the west we are not familiar with that local history and life experience. This is so because of the world cultural asymmetry. The real defiance might be to investigate local conditions through the challenge of the concepts drawn from elsewhere. What does Indian (or Chinese, or Yoruba, or Maya, or Aboriginee) history yield or contribute in terms of political autonomy (a concept having its western genealogy) as we understand it today for example, and for universal use ? On the contrary, how do such concepts as mokša, nirvāna or karma translate if/when identified even partly from, or pursued in a European context ? How do you translate into politics and political terms what has been seen as aesthetics, as mysticism or as “culture” ? “Culture”, a naturalised concept, is indeed not translatable back into “society” – it is an afterlife of society (Boris Buden). We shall remind ourselves of Gilles Deleuze’s view about philosophy (alongside with history) being a “royal science” (science royale), in the sense of a knowledge instrumental to mastering the world.

We use the term philosophy in a broad sense. Philosophy draws on other disciplines.

Who may be interested by this book (audience) :

This book addresses primarily an audience interested in philosophy (students and teachers), Eastern or Western. But it should be of interest to a general public of people interested in cultural studies too. It may catch the attention of a general public curious regarding an interaction between tradition and modernity, both locally as well as internationally. It addresses a public interested in “international politics” applied to the sphere of culture, and in cultural politics. It stresses the importance of south-south relations and politics.

The book should attract an Indian readership too. India is obliquely there “as a method” in many ways. This book, although India is not its topic in the strict sense would never have been possible had the author not studied in India and were she not indebted to Indian culture and intellectuals.

Methodology and expected results :

This book goes a step beyond comparative philosophy ; the latter is methodologically problematic because it privileges one of the sides without saying so. A whole new public space of philosophical and political translation (contextual translation) between India or China and the rest of the world is likely to be opened in the near future. This book may contribute to a breakthrough in the matter. Why ? Because philosophy will, under the pressure of contemporary history, sooner or later disentangle itself from its predominantly western perspective. This will shed new light not only on ancient and modern Asian (or other) philosophies, but also on the reasons why modern political concepts such as “democracy”, “human rights” and others breed in a different historical context in Asia, distinct from their place of origin, and why, therefore, they will give different results. This is where we need contextual translation. As everyone knows, philosophy in modern India is split between ancient Indian philosophy in care of the pandits, and more or less modern western philosophy taught separately at university. The latter is usually confined to a number of authors or schools (for ex. Kant, or Sartre and existentialism ; Foucault and his older work) when at all dealing with “continental” topics. Or it is analytical, pragmatic philosophy drawing on USA campuses. The connection, in the latter, with the nyāya or other schools of Indian logic is possible typologically directly and independently from a historic and thus political context. Even there, relatively few authors, such as Matilal, have engaged in connecting. With due exceptions (such as Daya Krishna, Mohanty), surprisingly few Indian philosophers have after all ventured into cross-reading and intersecting of Indian and western concepts. We think such cross reading – of one by the other – is possible and necessary for the development of the transborder discipline of philosophy, and we call for what we believe to be the methodology of “contextual translation”. This methodology will not confine itself to the relation India/the West but will find a broader application. The author has access to ancient Indian philosophy as much as to post-colonial studies and contemporary politics, which she makes interact.

The methodology is also the novelty of the book.

What is unique in this book and how would it enrich our understanding of (a politics of ) philosophy :

The idea of a “politics of philosophy” developed out of our previous research on partage de la raison, “partage” of reason, where “partage” (in French) means two opposite things at the same time : sharing and separating, cleave & cleave to. (Forthcoming is on this topic Uses and misuses of reason, with Zubaan, Delhi.) In considering this useful concept, we observe that reasoning inevitably functions through binaries (references as well as an indebtedness to Nâgârjuna or to such modern authors as Kalidas Bhattacharya are obvious here). But this should not be considered as a fatality leading to a dead-end. On the contrary, keeping reasoning and thought fluid beyond any dichotomies puts the accent on the way, the road, and the conceptual bifurcations as an ongoing process salutary to critical thinking : we call it the politics of philosophy.

This approach should open an absolutely new and hitherto inexistent public space, a third space (which does not pre-exist, but is constructed in the process). It can by no means be reduced to comparative philosophy as it was once studied. We wish to gradually bring Indian concepts into western philosophy, politics and social sciences, and vice versa, and to operate recontextualisations. We call for an epistemological revolution. We should introduce Indian philosophical concept into western philosophy in the same way in which Greek or German philosophical concepts can be used in English or French language philosophy. A whole new intellectual field opens here between the two, the philosophical political field of the exchange between the two, ground for both to develop. For example, the assumption is in western philosophy in general that Indian thought does not have the concept of subject or agency, and that it is consequently not political. But clearly, the civilizational option not to develop or use such a concept is in itself a deliberate political and intellectual choice. A whole series of other concepts around it are nevertheless available which delineate a figure in the “negative” (“negative” in the « photographic » sense) – the figure of the deliberate preference not to develop the objectal relation subject-object, not to establish a relation of appropriation of the world and not to dwell on the metaphysics of the subject. These concepts “around” what continental philosophy sees as a subject, delineate a complex context of conceptual structure (interlinked and complementary concepts) where the “absence” of the notion of a subject is not a deficiency, but a different historic and cultural construct and context. All these conceptions together, as well as each individually, can also be read and understood through a political grid, or under a “political regime” of philosophy, not withstanding the traditional western philosophical injunction never to read Indian philosophy as political. The latter depoliticization has its own historic reasons we should by now overcome. Once we have agreed to examine – and read – different ideas within one and a same philosophical regime (and, in this proposal – in a political regime of discourse), translation from one to the other, indeed contextual translation, will be made possible. Ideas from different cultural and historic origins may be made mutually contextually translatable and understandable, in spite of some inevitable gaps. (See “Translating violence”, ed. by R. Iveković :….) Language of the book and manner of writing :

English is not the author’s mother tongue, and her language needs to be checked. She writes and publishes in several languages, mainly French and English, while in the past she has published in Serbo-Croatian. The style of writing is rather that of the usual French essay writing for philosophy. This is an author’s book : the aim is not to present chronologically all the different achievements and previous books by other authors in the fields traversed, but rather to present the author’s development of the topics of her choice when starting from other authors. It does however summarize the current state of knowledge on these topics, and states clearly what it adds to that body of knowledge, albeit in an essayistic manner. A linking is provided to contemporary political and intellectual history. If no major changes are required by the publisher, the book is practically ready (all the chapters are written) and needs only one re-reading by the author with updating of some footnotes, some bibliography, as well as the English language corrections by the publisher. Introduction and Conclusion may be added or rewritten if required. The book avoids jargon as much as possible, has for its aim clarity of expression, and keeps spotlighted main ideas. However, the references, bibliography and notes may not be done according to your usage, and may need to be adapted in case you were interested in publishing the book.

The central focus of the book, that of a politics inherent in philosophy, including in the author’s approach itself, is never lost sight of throughout the manuscript. There always is a politics of philosophy, whether acknowledged or not. But it is not indifferent which politics it will be. In a world changing through globalization, which politics of philosophy will be adopted matters a lot not only for philosophy itself, but generally, for the way we construct the world.

How many words : TOTAL WORDS : 53.646 :

The liberal totalitarian system and gender, 4956 words A Politics of philosophy, 7282 words Exception as space & time : borders and partitions, 6230 words Terror/ism as the political or as heterogeneity. On meaning and translation, 11687 words Ethnicization and nation in the making of larger integrations (Identity principle), 4046 words Gender and transition, 10309 words Transborder Translating, 7182 words Bibliography, 1954 words (will be longer ; to be completed by transfers from the chapters and additions), Index to be made ?

Table of contents :

A Politics of Philosophy / A Politics of Reason

Introduction : The liberal totalitarian system and gender

A Politics of philosophy (This chapter is on Indian philosophy)

Exception as space & time : borders and partitions

Terror/ism as the political or as heterogeneity. On meaning and translation

Ethnicization and nation in the making of larger integrations (Identity principle)

Gender and transition

Conclusion : Transborder Translating

An after word may be added if needed

Bibliography (needs to be completed by transfers from the chapters and additions)

Index ?

Short description of the chapters :

The liberal totalitarian system and gender (as an introduction)

Our body-and-reason (nāma-rūpa) is an existential paradox, in that we are traversed by differences many of which appear as binaries (for ex. gender), and that we are at the same time historic and transcendent beings. Historic and limited as individual, and transcendent as humankind. Since each of us individually and all of us in common are at stake in the process of sharing or joining up reason, we are necessarily in a permanent process of translation. The construction of the universal as associated to power and domination. Globalization and gender generally explained as they interact, in a philosophical and political sense. References to some Indian authors. This chapter sets the political tone of the book.

A Politics of philosophy

This chapter is on Indian philosophy, its understanding by western philosophy, its different origin and configuration from the latter. Starting from an approach to Indian philosophy, a politics of philosophy is developed in this chapter, which can be generally used (not only for Indian philosophy). The question of the limits of philosophy as such is raised. This chapter sets the philosophical programme of the book.

Exception as space & time : borders and partitions

Partitions and the creation of borders are explored, starting with references to the partition of India and also to that of the former Yugoslavia. This chapter should be interesting for Indian readers because it puts partition within the general context of partitions. Indeed, the Indian partition is not the only one ; partitions are frequent and have comparable patterns all over the world. Examples of colonial partitions are investigated, and especially the Hispanic one. Their commonalities are explored and given a general theoretical framework sometimes missing in local descriptions of historic partitions. Gender is constantly tracked as an active dynamics in partition. More than one Indian author is constantly invoked and their theories used to test other historic examples than the Indian one.

Terror/ism as the political or as heterogeneity. On meaning and translation

Chapter on desemanticisation – the loss of meaning – in political language, and on the politics of language in the service of constructing “terrorism” and the nation. Such desemanticisation serves the purpose of depoliticising and of silencing certain populations and denying them access to political expression and representation. The chapter deals with the creation of terrorism by state terror. It has examples from the Middle East, from the Balkans, as well as quotes from and a critical analysis of Bush’s speeches on the “war on terror”. It quotes, among others, several Indian authors who are crucial to understanding the mechanism of constructing “terrorism”.

Ethnicization and nation in the making of larger integrations (Identity principle)

This chapter gives examples of processes of ethnicisation in nation-making in different countries or regions, the Balkans or India among others. It examines the process of globalization particularly in Europe at the end of the cold war, as well as the production of international migrations.

Gender and transition

This chapter is a description (though in a loose way) of transition, comparing post-colonial and post-socialist transitions. Then the intersection of nation and gender is analysed ; it is important because transition is understood today within globalization, the other end of which are fragmentations along “ethnic” national lines. The author investigates the importance of the threshold of 1989 and especially of its meaning for the making of Europe against its “others”. Finally, a view on world cycles and their connection to different types of patriarchies are exposed. Examples are given of the Indian partition and of the post-socialist partitions.

Transborder Translating (and conclusion)

This is a theoretically important chapter. It exposes the politics of language and of contextual translation elaborated by the author. The relationship and translatability between an Indian and a western philosophical context, between an Indian and a western frame of mind is explored.

An after word may be added if needed

Bibliography (needs to be completed from the chapters)

About the author :

The author Rada Iveković is a French scholar who studied in the former Yugoslavia and India. She teaches and publishes in France, where she lives. Her approach combines the Yugoslav and French approaches, is “south oriented” and indebted for its origin to a “non-aligned” cultural background looking towards the third world and the south. She draws also on Indian, Yugoslav, Algerian, Latin American sources, which gives to her work an original edge.

Address :

BIO-BIBLIO DATA of the author :

Rada Iveković, philosopher, indologist, writer, was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, in 1945. She taught at the Philosophy Department at Zagreb University until 1991. She joined the University “Jean Monnet” of Saint-Etienne in September 2003, after having worked at the University of Paris-8 (St. Denis) since 1992, Department of Philosophy. She is Programme Director at the Collège international de philosophie, Paris ( She published mainly on political philosophy (nation and gender), on feminist theory as well as on Indian and comparative philosophies. Books in foreign languages (other than her mothertongue) : Orients : Critique de la raison postmoderne, Paris : Ed. Noël Blandin 1992 ; Benares. Ein Essay aus Indien, Graz : Literaturverlag Droschl 1993 ; Benares. Un essai d’Inde, L’Harmattan, Paris 2001 ; Jugoslawischer Salat, Graz : Literaturverlag Droschl 1993 ; Europe-Inde-Postmodernité, ed. by Rada Iveković and Jacques Poulain, Paris : Ed. Noël Blandin 1993 ; La Croatie depuis l’effondrement de la Yougoslavie. L’opposition non-nationaliste, ed. by R.I., Paris : L’Harmattan 1994 ; Briefe von Frauen über Krieg und Nationalismus, co-written with Biljana Jovanović, Maruša Krese, Radmila Lazić and Duška Perišić-Osti, Frankfurt a/M.-Berlin : Suhrkamp 1993 ; La balcanizzazione della ragione, Roma : manifestolibri 1995, Le sexe de la philosophie. Jean-François Lyotard et le féminin, Paris, L’Harmattan 1997 ; Autopsia dei Balcani. Saggio di psico-politica, Raffaello Cortina, Milano 1999, and in German, Autopsie des Balkans. Ein psycho-politischer Essay, Droschl : Graz (2001) ; From Gender to Nation (ed with Julie Mostov) : Europe & the Balkans Network-Longo Editore, Ravenna 2002 ; Le sexe de la nation, Paris, Eds. Léo Scheer 2003, forthcoming in English at Zubaan – Kali for Women, New Delhi ; Dame Nation. Nation et différence des sexes, Ravenna, Longo Editore 2003 ; Ghislaine Glasson Deschaumes & R. Iveković (eds.), Divided Countries, Separated Cities. The Modern Legacy of Partition, Delhi, OUP 2003 ; Le sexe de la nation, Paris, Eds. Léo Scheer 2003 (forthcoming in English with Zubaan Kali for Women, New Delhi) ; S. Bianchini, S. Chaturvedi, R. Iveković, R. Samaddar, Partitions. Reshaping States and Minds, London, Routledge Frank Cass 2005 (chapter 2. “Partition as a form of transition” by R. Iveković, pp. 13-47 ) ; reprint by Routledge India 2006 ; Captive Gender. Ethnic Stereotypes & Cultural Boundaries, Delhi, Kali for Women – Women Unlimited, 2005 ; Uses and Misuses of Reason, Zubaan – Kali for Women, New Delhi, forthcoming.

Contact :

[The manuscript is available. THIS BOOK among others IS LOOKING FOR A PUBLISHER.]

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