Madina Tlostanova on Decolonizing the Equality Discourse

Madina Tlostanova on Decolonizing the Equality Discourse

Thank You Denis tree for this wonderful generous introduction I feel really honored and I actually I've this is what I was thinking these two days that I feel so happy and honored to be invited here I'm really grateful to the organizers who invited me to come to Central European University once again I think it's my third time that I'm here and each time I find something new something interesting here and I hope at this collaboration continues in the future so so let's start with this idea of all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others I don't know if any of you recognize this quotation some of you probably do and this request comes from the animal farm once famous book published in 1945 by George Orwell and this phrase of course has become a common phrase satirizing the is demagogic all proclaimed egalitarian ISM which is quickly turning into dictatorship and yet I would say that if all will arguably arguably draw a very thin allegory of Bolshevism at the dawn of the Cold War in today's world this phrase is changing its meaning and this is what I wanted to reflect and invite you to reflect together in today's world of winning nearly bral modernity with its unsightly nationalist lining that we see in many countries in Europe and not only in Europe it's more relevant probably to talk about and to problematize the emasculation of this naturalized neoliberal equality discourses that are still grounded in what we call in the colonial option the modern colonial logic and I will try to reflect today about this what is this modern colonial logic of dehumanization and dispense ability of lives not only human lives but actually life as such because it can be known human lives as well human and other lives and of course if we speak of humans the systemic inversion of human rights the inversion of human rights is a concept that we also used in the colonial option it was introduced by France in Kalama a social philosopher actually very long ago I think he wrote a article about the inversion of human rights and we've been using it since then and I will come back to it a little bit later but to analyze the falsity of the present equality discourse we need to go back in history of course and see how the Enlightenment principles of Liberty fraternity equality from the start were actually based on the silent exclusion of certain groups certain groups of people placing them closer to nature taking them outside of history outside of modernity and of course then depriving them of their right to equality in the ultimately the universal declaration of human rights as you probably remember which was adopted by the UN in 1984 and in many ways I mean 48 sorry and in many ways based on the devastating experience of the two world wars and then totalitarian regimes such as Stalinism such as Nazism clearly reinstated that all human beings are born free equal in dignity and rights and generally if we look today at the text of the Declaration we see that it uses the word equality and equal many many times as one of its key principles however we all realize of course that even if we are born equal we actually stop being equal very shortly after we're born and one of the reasons for losing our equality in the modern colonial world is of course racism as a universal instrument of depriving people of their equality together with other instruments such as gender and sexuality as accompanying sort of intersectional tools of discrimination and these principles are shaped together with modernity and together with its dark a colonial side and today the boundaries of racism as we all know and as I also heard it being discussed in one of the sessions that I attended in the morning because the boundaries of racism are becoming especially arbitrary especially blurred and at the same time devastating for larger groups of people racism is increasingly detached from the color of skin and acts as a place that people occupy in the ranking of humanity or better say the place they are assigned in this ranking the principles of this ranking of course not natural but man-made and decided by those who have the means to authorize themselves to make this classification by those who in other words words are more equal than others so they own this discourse and they also make the ranking of humanity subsequently these divisions of humanity into those entitled to equality and those who are not have been naturalized and made universal and the legitimated modern sort of pseudo-scientific human taxonomies such as the division of people into humans and sub humans perhaps sexually marked or racially marked or to quote one of our younger scholars from the colonial option whom you can see here Nelson Maldonado Torres he calls it misanthropic skepticism misanthropic skepticism meaning this kind of questioning their humanity questioning the belonging to humanity that he sees as one of them grounding principles of modernity and coloniality and that's what he says here you can read it and by de cartes methodological doubt Monica and misanthropic skepticism is not skeptical about the existence of the world of the normative state status of logic on cymatics is a form of questioning as a very humanity of the colonized people but today it's not only colonized people there's many other groups that are also going through this misanthropic skepticism and all races taxonomies of course have been built on the grounds of this misanthropic skepticism the savage as you remember was identified with nature and Caliban to code shakespeare's the tempest by definition was of course seen as in not capable of thinking feeling in terms of emotions only capable of some kind of raw effects not capable of creating art objects and cordons with particular settings and today this logic is unfortunately revamped in the treatment of new groups other groups of others such as migrants refugees asylum seekers and so on and it is very important to uncover the role of particular situated knowledge –is in the construction of this modern colonial ontology the issue of equality then I would say links with the assertion of geopolitical and body political rights of those who have been controlled by the Foucauldian biopolitics and indeed were invented by the imperial imperial knowledge based on its ontology racial and sexual high Rockies and and differences as demonstrated by a number of authors the major modern division of humanity is in to who monitors and anthropos and here I'm quoting nishitani Assam or Japanese scholar who wrote a very interesting article on that several years ago so he reflects on this and how people are divided into who monitors and anthropos meaning those who are marked by culture and belong to culture and those who are just biological human beings and in this case of course racialization also works through gender and colonization itself comes to be symbolized as an act of rape and violence and many scholars who wrote about that and the anthropos is constructed as he says as a position of the object absorbed into the domain of knowledge produced by the Humanitas the anthropos as the owned object folded into the domain of knowledge owned by the humanities is an other who does not exist ontologically and that is very important how this distinction which is totally created and invented its turns into the sphere of ontology how its ontology and this is I think one of the major issues and we have to deal if we want to discuss the question of equality and Gerrit Arianism the ontological erasing of the anthropos is a universal mechanism of modernity coloniality which we witness in the way indigenous people refugees migrants or the so-called missing citizens if we roughly translated into English or in French Lisa – I am Monica and this is a term that was offered by Croatian feminists living in Paris Rebecca bitches her formulation and her recent booklet is called that Lisa de Montcalm and she means people who are French citizens already but who are still seen as others and not belonging to to the state so these are many groups that are treated this way today and of course in the current political climate of fragmentation and reemergence of the ultra-right nationalists neo Imperial conservative rhetoric in the old nura and the new Europe and beyond there are more and more such undesirable groups and collectives which are dehumanized and subsequently discarded from the Equality model in the present situation of imperceptible normalization of the permanent state of exception which happens even outside the actual zones of war and conflict more and more groups of people are turned into could be called after Agamben bare lives the new anthropos whose human rights are systematically revoked restricted inverted and who are threatened monitored regulated through certain disciplinary regimes and different forms of even immobilization we can say such as racial ethnic and religious profiling identity controls of different kinds draconian immigration laws as forms of excluding people from the ontological reality the present stereotypical media representation for example of the Middle Eastern refugees multiple examples of hate speech but also hate images we can say manipulated by the powers competing for global and regional geopolitical dominance is designed according to the same scenario of maximum dehumanization and turning of live people into emblems of suffering and the times of aggression and threat symbolizing the deep internal contradictions and unresolved dilemmas of the European society itself and its identity in the conditions of the declining global capitalism and in Europe it's very alarming that we find an area of this essentially nationalist rhetoric which even in the most egalitarian societies and most democratic societies is still grounded in the unresolved contradiction and fundamental contradiction which actually Hannah Arendt defined as a contradiction between the equal rights for everyone and the advantages given to citizens and not just any citizens at that but those who were born in the country and belong to its ethnic majority and this even today in the globalization a pork so to say and this kind of globe-trotting a pork nativity remains the main principle of citizenship and by association of belonging to the humankind the dynamics of invisibility and height the visibility of the others is one of the main mechanisms of exclusion today created in and by modernity with it's darker colonial side starting from the 16th century onwards and helping to maintain and reproduce the racial sexual religious and other human taxonomies which are necessary for the preservation of the Western dominance and today the northern dominance we can say similarly to colonize people and to indigenous people the refugees are also placed in this taxonomy today closer to nature they are the contemporary anthropos naturally visible and at the same time publicly invisible and this is an important differentiation in this case naturally visible with publicly invisible and that of course is also a quote from Hahn R and therefore refugees and other similar groups are by definition exempt from any political action any political space or the space of appearance as she calls it the refugees are allowed into the space of appearance only as signs as emblems of their own suffering and notice agents of their own emancipation and subsequent empowerment a series of critical visuality nicholas mezzo F and some of you may be familiar with his books actually echoes Ahrens reflections when he conceptualizes the other as a ghost which cannot be a modern visual subject that is a person who is constructed as an agent of sight and as the effect of a series of categories of visual subjectivity so it's a ghost which could not be seen in the pond optics spectrum as he says and it has many names in many languages again it can be diasporic people exiles queers migrants refugees Tutsis gypsies and I'm quoting him here Palestinians the ghost is one place among many from which to interpolate the networks of visibility that have constructed destroyed and deconstructed the modern visual subject end of quote so in other words we can say that refugees have no right to look and maybe you're familiar with another work by mezzo F which is called the rat look so they have no right to look because this right comes from power and with power modernity allows them to be stared at but they are not regarded as those who can look and see in their turn therefore one of the major decolonizing state in the realm of visuality for Refugees is regaining their rights to look and to return the gaze of the Western observer as you all know very well from post-colonial theory the lattice is quite disturbing for the modern visual subject because it disrupts its dominance and control opening the possibility for resistance and eventually for re-exam the refugee can be interesting to the western or northern observer only as an object and first of all a media object today of course problems start when the object becomes a human being because then it becomes necessary to treat these human being ethically and to change the paradigm of charity and civilizing mission to seeing the former object as an equal with a right to be different and this is also very important we're all equal but therefore we have the right to be different this of course is a very old problem of Western modernity and more specifically of modern ethics which needs an operation of dehumanization to take the other out of the sphere of ethics to justify any violence in relation to this other in other words we can say that the anthropos does not exist ontologically it is a discursive construction which is invented by the same in the process of constructing its sameness in an act of enunciation hiding the locality and corporality of the annunciator in volta Manolis kind of semiotic wording the classification of human beings on which modernity has always depended needs a system of knowledge in which they would be sustained justified because this classification of human beings as not quite rational not quite mature not quite developed not sufficiently masculine not quite sexually normal not quite sane or healthy all of these stems not from the object not from the actual being not from these are the cells as such but from the knowing subject and from the system of knowledge that the subject creates to proclaim itself as the norm today we witness a major shift in the geography of reasoning from the western man to other agents the anthropos as a biological being or human in the guise of animals presumably untouched by nature but by culture is the term that was introduced by Sylvia winter Jamaican philosopher and she writes about it and she writes about this being becoming a full-fledged acting and thinking subject and from this stems her whole idea and her whole kind of a reflection on humanism which i think is very interesting because it's a non-western intervention into today's very fashionable discourse on post humanism and what I mean we cannot ignore it because it's one of the major important discourses today critical discourses but it's interesting that when you look at it from the position of the colonial difference it becomes totally different in in the colonial both continental Caribbean Africana thought there is an affirmation of an other humanism as a humanism of the other and other humanism is a planetary dialogic humanism of the former other and this humanism is parallel to Western entire humanism I would say but it grows out of a different local history at different temple equality it's hard to overestimate importance of space of this actual spatial histories and speciality in rethinking of the dichotomy of men and nature of the importance of the geopolitics and Kulpa politics of being of knowledge of perception and this corporeal bodily decolonization in its ontological aesthetic epistemic and other dimensions has always occur stood at the center of the colonial thoughts and especially is developing now in what we are working on today the intersection of somatic and ideational stands in the centre of the colonial body politic so corpo politics particularly in the way the de Cluny are thinkers such as sylvia winter or lewis gordon today a very interesting afro-caribbean philosopher reconceptualized transfer knowns concept of social genius and black skin white masks fanon invokes the link linux linux trickable link between knowledge perception and body corporality when he exclaims all my body make of me always a man who questions so this phenomenon so sujini principle which of course was in itself in elaboration of William Dubois double consciousness allows evaluating the origination the genealogies and trajectories of ideas grounded in pleura versal principles multiple principles rather than universal principle stressing the fact that any universalization comes precisely from the refusal to see how the social effects the rational so it was very important that he grasped this fact of the social context reality of our identities and images when he juxtaposed also genetic principle with your assent Eurocentric on to genic Freudian and field genic Darwinian principles and I think this is a very important part of today's rethinking of the problem of humanism you know formulates and reformulate is from the position of the other that needs more attention so this non-western body is of course different because it's hypersensitive to the bodily dimensions of knowledge of perception of creativity of sexuality of gender because in their experience with highly constructed material bodily difference is constantly put forward is constantly being a centralized and problematized and such a person is seen or made invisible only and exclusively through this bodily difference to paraphrase William Dubois and Lewis Gordon these are problem people problem people are people seen as problems people whose humanity is always under suspicion and whose bodies act as powerful markers of difference assimilation rejection resistance and eventually Ria's Issei here I would like to quote also another book written by Jane Ann and Louis Gordon they wrote it several years ago but still I think very relevant it's called of divine warning reading disaster in the modern age and in this book they actually they wrote it before the refuge the so called refugee crisis happened in Europe but I think what they say there actually means a lot for today's situation Europe and this reaction of many European societies to refugees they write about heavenly bodies and crises and they say it summons choices to be made since the results of making wrong choices could be catastrophic these kinds of divine warning occasion not only anxiety the struggle of choices one must make but also fear and this fear and this rejection of the other who is in crisis who somehow brings the the danger of catastrophe with himself or herself or themselves is what we see in many countries I do not want to associate themselves with the refugee problem so to say this is a reaction like a yeah we is not our problem we didn't colonize them so we don't want to have any of those in our country problem people these are the new problem people not the colonial problem people like was in the 16th century or indigenous people but it's the problem people of contemporaneity today the global coloniality generates more and more groups there are made into problem people living in problem regions refugees asylum seekers migrants are such groups but not only them but also less obvious collectives or symbolic collectives and one of them of course is us the post-socialist people the post-soviet and post social is people for those of you who cannot read Russian this is the real village in Russia and it's called the future Buddha Shan yes it's like a sign at the entrance of the village and for me it's very symbolic and important and I used it Asin my latest book that will be published as as you said soon in in June because when I was writing it I was kind of sitting in this little town in Sweden and reflecting on what is going to happen with us and how we the post-soviet people are made into this also problem people and knew others that are kind of rejected and left in the void and for me finally it all concentrated in the idea of the futureless ontology this is how I formulated this for myself and I think this is a very important shift that happened in post socialist countries and especially in in acts of it Union so we remain the essential outlaws of the new world the doomed mythopoetic ogress even if the other emphasis has shifted now to the Muslim others has a new global emblematic monstrous but actually nobody today's immune of this any group can become this new other and this new group of problem people and as a result more and more groups of people become increasingly subjected to this futureless ontology which allows for different degrees and forms of inequality and vulnerability yet forces more and more groups into the permanent state of exception war ethics or at least a naturalized competition for the pittance from those few who are more equal than others I actually I coined this term futurists ontology which as I said will be introduced in one of the chapters in my book because I was inspired by a friend and colleague of mine and Australian design theorist Tony Frye and his idea of the future he uses the idea of the future as a main tendency of contemporary time FRA defines the futuring as a code condition of mind and action that materially erodes planetary finite time thus gathering and designating the negation of the being of time which is equally the taken away of our future and of quote so it can in other words bring a positive or a negative futureless ontology and as a theories of design he thinks about ontological design so the ontological design can be also positive we can make it positive but most of the cases today is negative because it brings the future the human species in spite of our mutual dehumanizing tactics and growing economic and social symmetries still share some elements of ontological condition and some challenges which in the colonial option are referred to as pure reversal rather than universal unfortunately unfortunately most of these elements and challenges today are negative as opposed to the lighter side of modernity the original Universalist formulations that nevertheless always excluded some people they are negative in the sense that they describe the conditions of lack loss void or the future in tendency so this is what we all share today and this is not nice of course too often the Equality ideal flips into a negative equality of the futuring we're all equal now at the futuring tendencies taking various life options away from more and more population groups the present russian federation official rhetoric is a very good example of this the futuring and i'm not going to go into too much detail on that but I think the main shift was precisely that in socialist times there was still this predominant idea of the future so even even if people suffered now they were always offered this ideal in the future and you could read like okay we are not having everything we want now there are shortages but our children we live in this ideal utopian socialist future but sometime I would say in the 70s or even late 60s this idea ended and the Socialists at least Soviet society started to look more into the past than the future and if you look at this revival of pseudo Soviet rhetoric and Putin's discourses today you would find and see that they never speak about future they cannot offer any even fake idea of the future because they are aware of the fact that there is no future for the country and for the people so they are not even selling that and in some cases you know when when this kind of rhetoric needs to offer something to the people they offer some symbolic kind of balance okay in this world we cannot be happy but in the other world you know after you die maybe that there is some kind of justice there so very often you find this kind of eschatological even conversations and that's why religious discourses are so popular so it's interesting it's interesting how the idea of future was taken out of this discourse and the future is indeed a universal condition but the way we experience it is of course very different and very personal and the repute reversal the de colonial concept of plural versality entails the coexistence a correlation interaction of many intersecting non abstract universals and countless options that are grounded in this particular geopolitical situation and corporate political situation and these options they are not stable essential as they communicate with each other they leak into each other instead of producing one kind of frozen absolute Universal good for all and this is very important this is very important when I talk about the colonial option a lot of people cannot understand that why is called an option and not Studies or Theory precisely because of that it's an option you don't have to take it it's an option that we took and we find it relevant but you can continue doing your own theory or you know any kind of discourse it can be post-colonial studies it can be post structuralism it can be new materialism anything and we are not forcing anybody to take our position but at the same time we are open and always happy if people find something relevant in our you know arguments and that's why we have more and more people around the world who are taking our position I guess so since we don't have much time I would try to concentrate on a positive part of my talk if you can offer any in this futureless situation what can we oppose to these results equality discourses of modernity marked by coloniality of being of knowledge and or sensing let's dwell at some length on the possible ways of the colonizing this neoliberal model through shifting from the will to power to the will to life this is a model that was formulated many years ago by Enrique de sel from human rights to life rights this is a model formulated by some indigenous groups but in the colonial option by Walter Mineola from equality to parity that is a gun coming from Amerindian groups and theorized in an interesting and refreshing way by Sylvia Marcus from agonistic stew deep coalitions and here I'm quoting Mariela wanna sucrose and correlation allottee again you can find it in zillions of indigenous traditions and colonized traditions but in the colonial option we have a wonderful scholar from the draft University of London Vasquez who works with that and theorizes this concept so these are some of the models I would try to very briefly touch upon and first is Enrique de sel is the founding father of the colonial option a philosopher who lives in Mexico now he was born in Argentina and in 2006 he published a very good short book 25th on politics I mean it's an English translation he the the Spanish was published before of course so de sel reflects on the necessity of definitions ation of power in the state and suggests that even if in theory the power belongs to the people and the state must serve the people in reality is never the case and he means not only capitalist and liberal new liberal states but also communist and socialist states so he opts for a different future in which the principle of obedient power as he calls it a zapatistas obedient power would be finally put to live this principle cannot be understood in the frame of the Western understanding of humanity society representation what he means here by this collective we is not individual people not leaders in the Western understanding but it's always above the power being delegated to this leaders for only a very short period of time so there are no no stable leaders no positions that you can associate with leadership and this is again something that for example Western commentators and journalists don't understand when they go to Batista's and tried to write articles about them they don't get it that it's a different logic all together and different idea of democracy so the cell believes that power is not necessarily bad that's an interesting thing that's where I used to dislike power is bad we have to fight with it but he says institutions of power don't have to be bad if it's a it's a will not to power but will to life and if this institution serve for the people and and for nature for for for life in general so it's not necessarily about dominance it can be a will to life the ontology of political power understood this way is based on the collective will to life as it says the ability to unify the will and the goal as a requirement of practical rationality and the feasibility grounded in instrumental rationality so he kind of questions and problematizes this negative interpretation of power that we find in all classical texts from hopes to lenin and he says theorists usually discuss praxis and not Institute's but institutes are not necessarily repressive they can also serve the interest of the people and here you see in this quotation here i reflects on equality and he thinks that the quality is good but it should always be balanced with something else so the question is when equality destroys diversity then it becomes necessary to defend cultural difference and and here we have to be very flexible very open and very much everything has to be based on correlational principle and i like that what he comes up in the end and he says instead of equality fraternity and liberty I come up with principle of alterity solidarity and liberation liberation instead of liberty is an important shift because it's not something ossified and throws and once and for all and given okay here's your Liberty and now you're free no it's a constant process it's non-stop it's open its processional and again to quote zapatistas we get any kind of truths that are not you know stated once and for all but any kind of answers we get while we walk while we March and that's a very important thing also another de Cluny I think a Waterman Ola in one of his recent texts also writes something not against human rights but questioning this discourse of human rights and actually he started that long ago already in the book that we co-wrote with him there is a chapter written by water who's human and human rights explaining that not not all people are seen as human and considered to be human but now he went even farther he wrote a text in which he questions the idea of human rights and proposes to replace it with life rights and he says that he says that hence comes the shift from human rights to life rights all the rights of life itself an idea that is connected with the right to life in contemporary world system that unfold mainly in the sphere of the economy right the ethics of the corporations violates rights of nature and violates rights of the humans in the name of development and this is what we have to question development rather than justice rather than democracy legitimate violations and legalized what would be considered illegal in all other situations so the formulation of the right to leave all life rights instead of human rights presupposes putting economy and law pull pushing them aside see to say making them serve life as such and not the other way around so it just shifts shifts this part of power kind of as having made nature into the object of exploitation modernity exiled into the sphere of nature and label as costs everything and everyone that was to be exploited and here of course Mineola draws heavily on Amerindian concept of sumach outside as well as Rolando Vasquez originally from Mexico but living in Europe and Rolanda does it in in a wonderful way in his later series of articles where he writes about this concept of when we're in Spanish or good life but it's again it's a very bad translation because when you say good life in English you immediately imagine successful materially successful life and this is not what is named here by buen vivir a and bi sumac outside rather it's a life in harmony with the universe with nature with other people with other beings not only human beings and and it has nothing to do with material success of course so it's a tricky thing this untranslated bility of these concepts and what all of them stress is that we need to focus more again on institutions that are not false that are not kind of losing their connection with reality not institutions that were created from top but rather what parted chatterjee Indian political scientists called many as go on one of his book the politics of the governed he calls it political society not civil society but political society meaning all of this is not NGOs but social movements that come from below and these kind of activities of people who which cannot be fit into the either the model of the state or the model of the market or anything that is ruling today so it's all about this politics of the governed it's all about this political society that deals with life rights with survival with human dignity rather than any formal things that are covered by the so-called youth gentium the other the right of the nations that was formulated and still is used of course another model that I would like to mention very very briefly is described by Sylvia Marcos my dear friend and colleague from Mexico Mexican anthropologist who knows everything about Zapatista movement and actually spends months living there with them and I condone forests and write a lot of stuff on that so she was one of the first who wrote about this principle of parity instead of equity and that's interesting that force was a party Semin there is no Galit arianism they don't like it they don't like the idea of gender egalitarianism and instead of that they talk about parity because they they say that no two human beings are identical and equal they're all different and so it's wrong to talk about equity in the sense of being identical so yeah we do have the same rights but we're all different and being equal allows you to be different and that's why for them is always important to talk about a changeable flexible balanced state of extreme dynamic tension and not a pragmatic compromise between the opposites for separatist this equality means stagnation and actually death as they think that yeah nobody is actually totally equal and this is an interesting shift that we find in a lot of indigenous feminism especially in South America correlation allottee that I already mentioned several times today is another thing that you find in so so many indigenous cultures and marine iguanas preeminent the colonial feminists was one of the first who introduced it in her works back in the nineties and now as well so she actually uses this principle of correlation ality together with Rolando so in his works to ground what she cause deep coalition's I like this concept of deep coalition's and I work more and more with it and sometimes questioned it also so these deep coalition's they can potentially be a way for constructing horizontal alliances of those who are excluded from this equality discourse and forced to compete in the predominant agonistic model and that is another thing that I think is very important in our trying to understand what it means this equality discourse and why it's so meaningless today because modernity with this colonial side is very much based on the principle of organist –ax ago on yeses rivalry so Laguna's was one of the first that wrote in one of her essays about negating this agonistic principle stopping competing with other people and instead of that using the principle as she she says in that essay traveling along other people's worlds with a loving perception instead of agonistic so you come to that world of another not with the idea of competing and fighting and becoming having a better space for yourself and his modernity but rather with an idea of building some sort of coalition and I think this is one of the major problems today for many contesting discourses because there are many groups that are taking the stand point positions and criticizing modernity from their particular local histories but very often they don't find a way of building these deep coalition's unfortunately yeah because everybody fights for their uniqueness and saying ok I am a victim of modernity and my sufferings more important than yours and that is a very weak point in in many of the situations because that allows modernity to still divide and rule and win in all of these situations and as a way of conclusion I wanted to give you one example just simply because I'm working with it now it has to do with the lack of dialogues or impossibility of dialogues between post socialist feminism and post-colonial feminism because this is what I'm writing on now actually with my two co-authors some of you know them through cheetah Barbie orchid who is originally from India but she's professor of political science in Uppsala University and Radhika Bach was originally from Estonia as a post socialist country right and so we are working together on this and this is a result of our reflection on one conference that we had inland shopping University four years ago almost full sear and half years ago it was intended as a dialogue a possible dialogue between post-colonial feminist and post-socialist feminists and it was a complete failure was one sided because many post socialist feminism Eastern Europe came and they were all interested in post-colonial discourse they knew all the categories they all read their barber and Spivak you know and could quote it easily and also applied their situation and so there were a lot of really serious political discussion not only political others as well like we are post colonized you know we're the new post-colonial others were treated as post-colonial others of Europe and there was I mean relevant although I mean I had some questions because I'm not white I'm not European and so I also felt sort of other in that situation yeah because I'm post-colonial in the true sense of the word coming from two russian colonies non European colonies while that was more like a European talk even if it was questionable if you if you look at internal European hierarchies right of course but it's interesting that there was no reciprocal action from the part of post-colonial feminists to begin with we had only two or three people who could be seen as post-colonial feminists coming and none of them attempted to engage somehow in reflecting on this socialist situation you know like criticizing it or the oppositus kind of they're trying to find some connections and that was really interesting for me I started thinking about it and I since then I wrote two or three articles on that and now we're reflecting together with my colleagues but I think it's a very good example of this lack of of equality discourse and lack of equal rights even if you speak about such presumably open groups as transnational feminism you know this because you know when people say transnational feminism today is a euphemism of post-colonial feminism because there's no such thing yes both cornea of feminism as a school but when we're especially in the American context when we read about transnational what is meant is non-white feminist and on European feminism women of color feminism but in these discourses as several theories shown and one of them of course Jennifer such lund in her book about women trafficking sex trafficking in poor socialist world I mean it's obvious that it's already an established discourse with transnational feminism which doesn't want to allow any more others into it so to say and very often we find the post socialist women finally we have no place there we can't really join this all if we do we're totally misunderstood and our experience is totally misrepresented or distorted you know is seen as something really weird because of course it's weird if you compare it with with a classical post-colonial situation what we went through is sometimes the opposite and I will finish with an anecdote a very short one and you can reflect on that it's actually a true story it's not an invented story and I was told this story by a friend of mine from India a very interesting person who lived in Soviet Union and 1970s and 80s and she wrote a book about Russian Orientalism criticizing Russian / Soviet Orientalism with with really good bases because she worked in archives during perestroika times when it was still possible and this book was she wanted to publish it in Russian but of course they didn't allow her and she finally published it in English so Kalpana's acnes her name she's a famous Indian scholar she told me that her son married a woman whose parents came from India to London and so they established themselves got an education it's a typical post-colonial success story you go to the former metropolis you become a doctor an engineer I mean wonderful and of course I mean they they have certain specific positionality still because they consider themselves successful but they realize the difference even in the way they look you know in the way people treat them and Great Britain then what happens is Kalpana comes to visit them and she founds out that they hired a servant and the servant is from Lithuania and the servant is totally looking different right and and I already have a problem with that because deep there is still the racial thing a racial difference and so they don't know how to treat her and that's what Kalpana could see because she had some experience in the Soviet Union and so she could remember how it worked there and then and then at some point this woman comes yeah and and also we found out that she made the opposite thing thing for hurt was not coming up the the social ladder so to see but the opus because she had a higher education in Soviet Union she was a famous marathon runner like a champion and there she works as a cleaner in this family in London and then she said can I go early today because my son came with a Philharmonic Orchestra and apparently he's a member of the training harmonic Orchestra who came to London and is performing and she wants to go there and I mean there were all nice people and we found out a way of dealing with that but it's interesting that they were shocked because Kalpana was talking with her relatives after that and they couldn't make sense of this because in their world vision so to say it should be the opposite and logic should be the opposite even if we criticize colonialism and new colonialism post colonialism whatever but still there is a certain logic and this logic is connected with some idea of progressivism you can question it but still is there well in this case it was just the opposite you know from some kind of force progressivism you come to this situation of limbo where nobody cares about your education your European the warning you're nothing you just they're in this position of thrown kicked out of modernity let's say I'm history so this is an interesting thing that not many people theorized fully I would say especially if we speak not about lease when Ian's that is more or less no I mean there are interesting theories there but if we speak about people like me coming from Central Asia all the caucuses because they're there there is no post-colonial theory oh the colonial theory and this is an interesting situation of people who were kind of made into the honorary second world by Western modernity and then finally all of a sudden they find themselves being thrown into the situation of the third world again but not many of them agree with that because there was a different system the different schooling a different identification and self-identification and it's an interesting conflict they're going on so what I'm telling you is just one small example but there are so many you know complex things there that question this idea of a Galit arianism and especially if you have a gala terrorism on paper like in more socialist countries and then you have the darker reality the darker colonial said of how it actually was practiced on more practiced so I think there's a lot of food for thought and it's great that we have the new generation of scholars here who will hopefully tackle all this in the future thank you [Applause] thank you so much mad enough for this inspiring talk very brilliant and I suggest that we open up to questions not only short interrogative statements as our rector says but also comments reflections yeah yeah uh-huh thank you very much it's a good question well you know when I first discovered the colonial option for myself it was in the late 90s and I immediately felt that this is I mean sounds very familiar to how I feel myself being a colonized other and Soviet Union and then in Russia and always being rationalized and at the same time you know having this westernized / Soviet education it's a very complex thing and I was also colonial in the sense that I was detached from my own cultures both cultures in the Caucasus where my father came from the circle and culture they are diga culture and my mother from Uzbek and Tatar cultures I didn't know the language because you know in Soviet system you had to learn Russian of course in order to get any kind of decent education and for that reason I didn't belong to these cultures either but at the same time I didn't want to be Russian and Russians didn't want to see me as one of them and this who don't and so it was a very interesting thing because I when I read on saldua I felt ok this border also runs inside me this is how I feel and then very difficult with a lot of difficulties I started going to both the Northern Caucasus culture and to Central Asian culture to interview people to discover you know oral histories this kind of things that are only you know there are not in archives of course because the Soviet modernity made sure that it's all erased but still yeah I could find people who told me about it isn't my book on gender I used some of this you mentioned shamans but I also found similar to shamans I found people who in the Spanish tradition will be called current eras like you know people who cure you're of different things and mostly they are women so I found in both in Caucasus and in Central Asia in Central Asia also some of them are religiously connected with Sufism like Sufi Saints who can can be women it's amazing you know when you talk with them their religious kind of creolized views because there's a lot of merging of different religions and pre-islamic things a lot of interesting things and and of course it's in them originally that I found this de colonial impulse because yeah I discovered that all along they were never agreeing with modernity with the socialist modernity but of course it could destroy you very easily and so they invented ways of infiltrating this modernity acting as trick stress and then I found out that in my own family it was the same you know and I that's why I started writing novels to begin with because I wanted to rediscover my own history and then kind of look at it against the background of larger picture of modernity and modernization in this regions and and that was a very important and shocking experience for me and now I'm looking more more in that direction in my new book that I hope I will somehow finish at some point will be actually dealing with this indigenous land based cosmologies in the Caucasus because this is what is being revived there now you know in the Northern Caucasus is especially my people my ancestors adiga people they were three worshippers and so there is this very important culture of worshipping trees and forest gardens that were destroyed by Russian colonization and now it's being revived and the younger generation is truly trying to kind of go back to that tradition you know and they actually replant forest gardens they there are several social movements dealing with that but it's very recent it's only in the last maybe four or five years that's happening and I'm really curious and I want to write about that and see how it will develop thank you it's yeah it's a very very good example and you know it reminded me of the time when I worked at one of such universities in Moscow originally it was called Patrice Lumumba University people's friendship University of Russia it's now called and I taught that for 10 years and of course I was teaching already at the point when we stopped having people from the global South in because before it was like 75 % of students were from the global South and now mostly they are from CIS countries but there's some still from Asia from several African countries from Middle East let's say yeah there's still some students and this a very interesting phenomenon because on the surface of course they're still fed with this proletarian internationalist meth or remnants of it although in reality they face racism all the time all the time I mean it's really very racist and you're right that when some of them cannot go back to their countries because they would never find the community and so that's why a lot of them stayed a lot of them stayed in Soviet Union I have friends who graduated from Patrice Lumumba University back in the 80s and they are now very successful doctors and engineers but it's not always the case because there is always a community of people who got this indoctrination of Soviet modernity let's say and some of them are very successful they work in embassies of this countries you know and then when we have official holidays they come and they visit and there is like alumni organization and all that but I think there is always this double discourse like there is something that you can read there is official ideology of this university and other places like that but there is always always racism as well and one thing that is really touching is that there still I mean depending on how you look at it they're still indoctrinated into this Russian language of course and before they're allowed to go to the classroom for one year they sit and they have this intensive Russian lessons and after that you see sometimes people in or different students from different countries foreign students say they use Russian as kind of way of communicating because some of I mean they of course there are all different languages like and they can't speak English for instance because some of them are French and Spanish so the Russian broken Russian is their way of communicating and I guess for these Patriots is very nice that you know there is one space where Russian is still shared by international students but you're right it's a very very important issue and even recently in Sweden I was I took a taxi a week ago and I mean in my town in Sweden where I live Texas I usually non-european taxi drivers a non European people immigrants and so there was this immigrant and of course we started talking I always talk with text to drivers so they talk with me I don't know and that's not typical in Sweden and so the first question he says are you you were four and I say yeah I'm from Russia oh good my sister went to st. Petersburg and she became a doctor and now she's the cardiologist in London so we started talking and we immediately became almost friends you know and it's interesting that this person was nostalgic about the time that he went to visit his sister in st. Petersburg 20 years ago and he still remembers some Russian so there is this really strange feeling you know and now she's a successful doctor in London and he's a taxi driver and in shopping and he was very bitter about that although he didn't want to discuss this so there is this lost community of senses with socialist modernity yeah yes please yeah of course I'm familiar I can't say that I can't read percent agree with that although I use it and actually we criticized this concept but not in his interpretation in our one of our articles with this co-author through cheetah barbie orchid and I can explain to you why because munos uses it in from a colonial position of course the colonial and also from Djibouti keel position which is very important but then we think with suruci that the concept of this identification was hijacked by white feminism and misused and misinterpreted and depoliticized today and we use the example of the daily gang rape remember severally as a god happened and then after that many European and American feminists said that they decide enta Phi from this illness they didn't want to have anything to do with that you know and that we find very alarming so I think that yes munos concept is important but we have to remember who formulated it I mean that it was him and what conditions and why while when people today just use it all the time I find it problematic the same way as with intersectionality that is overused so much thank you thank you for your talk I have actually a very brief question you mentioned in the beginning of your talk about two concepts the first one is nearly pure modernity and the second one the conditions of decline in capitalism so I would love to ask you to reflect on how we can think both of them together and also maybe how and how and if we can apply the concept of neoliberal modernity to contemporary Russia to this particular post post-soviet space mmm-hmm okay thank you that's an interesting twist because I'm not a specialist in economics so I don't think I have the right to talk about capitalism in that I'm not trained to do that and actually in the colonial option we usually don't even use the term capitalism I use it today but normally we say economic coloniality because this is just one of the sides of coloniality as we see it but of course it's very important to see the difference between let's say liberal modernity and neoliberal modernity and the way capitalism is developing today right and here I won't say anything new because we can read all sorts of leftist theories on that and there is a good a lot of good books written on precarity and this kind of stuff and we know of course today the the concept of economics changes so much and it means increasingly some virtual money instead of any kind of kind of real material things that it used to mean before and this is one of the reasons of course why it's declining well when I say declining I mean that I'd look at something that is probably more familiar to all of us since we're at the university what is happening with universities today everywhere not only in Russia but also in Europe and the United States there are different degrees of turning University into a business venture yeah so all of the basic principles of university as an institution that not only gives you a sum of knowledge facts but also helps you to become well-rounded human being and citizen all of this is lost today and you know in the majority of cases the university is just thinking about making money and yeah it becomes part of the new liberal capitalist system and I think this is one of the very dangerous things of how neoliberalism kind of penetrates all spheres of society and of course again in different countries it develops and with different speed but it's a it's a general tendency if we look at Russia Russia is a very strange hybrid case in that sense right because on the one hand of course it's very near liberal again and if you look at education if you look at other shrinking and dying spheres of society and social lives such as health care for instance in other things like that then it's an extremely ugly version of neoliberalism but on the other hand of course it's a it's a strange kind of neoliberalism which is also connected with some you know as we know with five six seven people owing everything in the country right and extreme poverty with this kind of state capitalist schemes of state capitalist ventures like Gazprom and all this kind of stuff so it's a weird combination of this very outdated ways of you know building political society and politics in general and and at the same time very very near liberal not only rhetoric but also actually politics and this is something that is very hard to explain in the West sometimes you know because when I stock with my friends for example and colleagues even the colonial colleagues or leftist colleagues in the West they don't get it because they take what Putin says very seriously they don't realize that it's so populism and it has very little to do with what is really happening there and so when I tell the stories about how universities develop in Russia now this is see how but this sounds totally neoliberal yeah of course it sounds totally neoliberal people have to be rich in order to even get any kind of education today in Russia and I think this actually is connected with this futureless situation like nobody cares about the future nobody wants to have any kind of research for example or and you know that's why I Katamon of Sciences was killed in Russia basically just destroyed in several years so I think Russia for me in that sense is a caricature of the West as it often used to be and still he's so there are a lot of tendencies that in the Western Europe especially are kind of more mild you know hidden you have to really look hard in order to see how it works but in Russia it all works in this caricature istic form you can say oh ok yeah here you you can see how you can destroy the university's institution in three years you know basically and then you just you know recent example my former PhD student a very talented young woman a feminist she you know works in this mountain no mining University in st. Petersburg and she was told that we're gonna kick you out if you don't become a doctor in Russian system there are two kinds of PhDs one is like a level higher level PhD the doctor'll doctoral degree real doctoral and so she was she spent six years writing this thick book and she wrote a very good dissertation but then she found out at the last moment when she was already put in line to defend it and that way trying to keep her position as a professor and be promoted that the last free PhD committee was closed in Russia so if now you want to defend a dissertation you have to pay a lot of money because all this committees take take this money to to allow anybody to defend and and she was just devastated because she lost health you know she she was not having any social rifling you're just writing this and working at three places to make the ends meet and at the same time there are many people who don't want to emigrate you know to go and we discussed this with her and I said maybe you should come to European one of the European universities and just you know do your PhD here maybe another PhD just to kind of have normal life for three or four years but there is it's an interesting thing that there are lots of young people there in Russia who don't want to emigrate and I actually like that position true they say it's our country why should we leave yeah it's we have to kick out these people who created this problem to begin with so it's also possible to be proactive in that way I guess okay thank you I don't know if it is shaped as a question in my head yet so we talked a little bit about also what happens to concept that travels and they might lose meaning or change at best so I was wondering in this decolonial option that you're presenting and the vocabulary you're presenting especially in relation to temporalities that the last slide you are there and that maybe we didn't go there as much maybe and the future last night so forth I was wondering how you see your contribution in that sense and the risks of it being read from maybe from a Western perspective in terms of nostalgia potentially right so it did Germany or modernity and and the resistance that becoming a form of nostalgia which we've seen it's not a very politically progressive way most of the time to go about so I was just wondering if you could say a little bit more about this temporality future lessness and what do you envision it could do also to a let's case a Western thinking mode I guess well you know when I formulated it I was not really thinking about Western thinking or Western kind of paradigms I was trying to understand what was happening there and acts Oviatt Union and think about it from that position allottee from the position of someone who was born there and lived half of my life there you know so I didn't really care how it can or shoot the influence the Western thinking because wasn't thinking cannot be I guess influenced by that because it has a different local history and different logics so you know but of course maybe it's good if Western I mean in a collective sense Western scholars would try to open their ears to this and listen to this different kind of theorization of a different experience which seldom happens of course because they have their own models that impose on us and that's why I think many poor socialist countries were struggling with this for so many for 25 years always be seen as catching up yeah they have to catch up with the West they have to kind of develop so this developmentalists discourse was imposed on them as well not only on this global South but on the socialist world as well and and that's why there was this bitterness and this post-colonial sentiment at some point when people realized oK we've been trying to catch up for 20 years but instead of catching up we find out what that we are always catching up and we're farther away we're still seen as second-rate people and not true Europeans and then I think this post-colonial sentiment came into the post socialist discourse and I started thinking about it actually I think because there were so many people in Russia thinking about the the future discourse and writing something about it and also some immigrants from the Soviet Union who are very famous today in Europe like buddies growers for instance is one of the theories art theorists and philosophers who wrote about that and he has this idea that instead of you know progressivism that we were offered before and this progressivism was forced and sometimes made us you know go through different stages of development so to say very quickly so instead of that we are offered the rhetoric and the narrative of regress today when this both socially sadder is forced to go back in time and to go back to some kind of imagined zero point and start from scratch again this climbing along the ladder of modernity but this time the correct modernity not the socialist but the liberal new liberal moderate and of course a lot of people don't like this because that's why you read feminists saying yeah we don't need to to emancipate we were already masturbated in the 1920s you know I had all the rights that the Western women just dreamed about at that point and it's true I mean the question is how well the laws were implemented of course and when we got in the end but this is a problem I think for a lot of people and that's why sometimes there is this resentment and unwillingness to kind of borrow anything from Western experience and this annoyance with Western scholars coming and telling us what to do and how to interpret our own past in some countries you can see more of it like in former Yugoslavia for example it's a very strong discourse now but in other in other cases also meaning in Central Asia I found a lot of that because there were groups of American and Western European anthropologists political scientists who are coming there to enlighten these nations you know and to save the brown women from brown men as we discussed this morning at one of the sessions yeah like how to emancipate so it's interesting and of course it's very easy to criticize this nostalgia and say all people want to go back to socialist nobody I know I don't think there are many people who really seriously want to do that but what they are nostalgic about in many ways is this predictability of their lives the fact that the socialist state even if it was poor it still guaranteed you some kind of basic things that today we don't have because we are so precarious all of us at all levels so this is something that people probably are nostalgic about but in many cases I talked with these people and I mean I interviewed many people who are sort of nostalgic and very often it's nostalgia about their own use you know it's not a political regime that they're nostalgic but okay I was young I was happier you know I had all the opportunities in front of me it's not politicized but then when you start talking with them you realize at some point but of course they're very critical of Stalinism of this and that but it's not what they choose to remember in many cases what I am more kind of alarmed with is when the younger generation of people who have never lived in Soviet times they use the socialist Soviet kind of socialism as an idea yet people who were born after the 1990s or mid-1990s or in 2000 this often I mean that there is this brainwashing going on and a lot of them come and you know with this kind of glowing eyes so yeah we have to go back to socialism because they have no idea how it was and that's that's a problem sometimes I think yeah okay and one more question thank you so much for your talk please bear with me because I do not have my thoughts really clear in my head so I'll ask for your patience I felt a little bit interpolated when you were talking about post-colonial feminists and also for socialist feminist talking with each other and my research project and everything I do is based in Lebanon and I am from Jordan and I'm actually half Czech so so I have this bit of a messed up relationship to geography and post socialism and also post colonialism so I was just playing with some thoughts as you were talking and you know I I I think at least in my region wheat we tend to forget that we also have a relationship to socialism right and if we thought think about Iraq and Syria these are the two biggest nations that had a socialist regime for a long time the Baathist regimes and both of which have undergone severe bombing by Western forces and so I think there are connections there in terms of not only the nostalgia that I think we have yet to see for the socialist regimes that were destroyed at this moment I mean already you feel you meet a lot of people saying we had everything we needed in Syria look what happened but that's I mean the conditions are different right it's a war it's it's it's not that but perhaps we do share more of a futureless future then then we then we think but then looking from the perspective of the refugees that are arriving in Europe I don't necessarily think that they think of it as a futureless future they are coming from the future less past let's say into into what they do perceive as a future right the shores of Europe so it's a very different position and I wonder if the person looking at them since they don't have the right to look is also seeing the past the destruction of a socialist in a sense maybe I don't know because our regimes have also been quite neoliberal recently I mean the entire Middle East is you know going over duper liberal so but we did have very strong connections to socialist countries right especially in the 80s and the 70s there's so much exchange of students of doctors etc you know it's it's really there in the foundations and those risks sorry those ties have not been completely severed so but I just these are just some thoughts I wanted to bounce off and yeah that's all thank you very much actually thank you for this because I was interested in precisely this opinion coming from this particular you know local history because that was as I said I was also reflecting on this and I talked with several let's say post-colonial feminists but mostly from India and also from sub-saharan Africa and they said we are nostalgic even if some of them did not have socialism in their own countries but they had as an as an idea and so when Soviet Union existed even if it was false with all this rhetoric but people still saw it as a possible utopia and and so in that sense they felt very bad when you know it was close this opportunity a possibility and only one was left like nearly brown modernity so that was a shock for them plus of course many of them didn't know much unless they were studying there and had their own first-hand experience didn't know much what socialism was like you know like this real socialism and there was no access to this knowledge and so they're hesitant I guess of discussing this because there is a mixture of these things like first idealize and ii lack of information and so they're very very hesitant but now i think it's growing this interest and this need to reflect on your own socialist approach of socialist or whatever past you know and how it connected with other examples of the socialist world because recently all of a sudden I got the message of people from India and the leftist journey out there who actually started with focusing on these interconnections and intersections between socialism and colonialism and post socialism and post colonialism and they asked me to write an article or something just out of the blue I didn't know them and then I discover there are many people there talking about this and you're reflecting so I think it is coming with some delay and I think this delay probably and this coming after the delay is also connected with this global situation that you started with with this war and with this kind of you know the fact that nothing changes I mean history doesn't change the same kind of war the same bombings I mean 20 years after Yugoslavia or whatever you you have the same rhetoric of this inversion of human rights with what it means is that it's enough if a person or a regime is accused of infringing upon human rights it's enough to kind of deny human rights to this regime of this country of the state then you can bomb you can destroy and this is a way of justification that is using not oh bombings for instance and cases like that and and this is interesting I mean how this young human right this course can be used as a violence actually and that's what happens today yeah okay thank you very much okay it's time to close join me in thanking our speaker you

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