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Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp.

111 120, 2007

From Central Asia to the Caucasus and Anatolia: transcultural subjectivity and de-colonial thinking

Madina Tlostanova The Sublime of Globalization? Sketches on Transcultural Subjectivity and Aesthetics Moscow: Editorial URSS, 2005 264 pp. t13.90 Janus-Faced Empire: Notes on the Russian Empire in Modernity Written from the Border Moscow: Blok, 2003 80 pp. Price n/a I The argument that responds to the question formulated in the title of Madina Tlostanovas The Sublime of Globalization? (cited hereafter as SG ) comes in chapter II, section 7. Here, Tlostanova reminds us of Kants sublime and current uses of this concept, such as the sweatshop sublime, which has been suggested as the sublime of globalisation. Tlostanova asks: What is really sublime about globalisation? How is it realised aesthetically inside and outside Western culture? How can we define the aesthetic value or devaluation in various literary and cultural situations generated by globalisation? (SG , pp 121 122). Underscoring Kants concept of the raw (children, women and primitives who are not yet ready to sense the sublime * or the beautiful * and are also deprived of full reason), Tlostanova takes issue with Bruce Robbinss updating of Kants sublime in the sensibility of global networks.2 She points out that Robbinss sublime presupposes a Western sensibility and episteme. That is, if the network of phenomena invoked by the cereal box that a New Yorker has in front of him while having breakfast and reading the newspaper is global, then the points or nodes from where such phenomena are felt and conceived are not global but local: the sensibility and epistemic awareness of an educated New Yorker. In that sense, Robbinss sublime reproduces Kants Eurocentrism in con-fusing the global set of phenomena with the assumed uni-versal sensibility and understanding of THE subject. Invisible and at the
ISSN 1368-8790 print/ISSN 1466-1888 online/07/010111 10 # 2007 Walter D Mignolo DOI: 10.1080/13688790601153198


same time present in the network that made the box of cereal present on a table in New York City are the workers, those exploited by the global economy that Robbinss breakfasting New Yorker is aware of and at the same time impotent in relation to. Tlostanova observes:
The very subject, by means of whose sensibility Robbins illustrates the sweatshop sublime, is definitively a subject of the First World; its successful representative who, having the morning coffee in a private environment, all of a sudden starts contemplating the complexity of the world system that provides consumer goods and services for him. . . . The next step after the realisation of this globalisation sublime is, invariably, the awareness of the impossibility of his own actions . . . quickly coming back onto the minimalist level of personal mundane experiences. (SG , 124)

Tlostanova then turns to Gayatri Spivak, who underscores the primitive consciousness (of the colonised) as a case in point of Kantian raw consciousness. Thus, unlike the workers of the sweatshop sublime, whose rawness allows them to respond only with anger (in Robbinss interpretation), those with primitive consciousness respond similarly but based on their awareness of racial-colonial discrimination and not merely their awareness of labour exploitation. Thus, Robbins and Spivak are * simultaneously * instances (not representations) of the First World intellectual and the Third World intellectual in the First World, updating Kant to account for the sublime in the frame of the global instead of the frame of the national in which Kant was operating. Tlostanova dwells on these two examples (Kants re-reading by a First and a Third World intellectual), in order to formulate the question that both drives her argument and motivates her research:
And what happens with the sublime in the post-Soviet space? To which pole does it gravitate, to the pole of world capital or world labour? Post-Soviet Russia together with most of the ex-Soviet republics would very much like to become a part of the world capital and suffer together with Robbinss subject from the sweatshop sublime. (SG , 126 127)

Because of the long history of communism, after the demise of the Soviet Union the working class did not enter into the global proletariat of the sweatshop sublime. The sweatshop sublime was mapped mainly in the Third World and what became of it after the fall of the Second World. The Russian Federation carried in it the traces of the Second World, both in its imperial and colonial dimensions (e.g. the Soviet Republics of Central Asia and of the Caucasus). Beyond the Third World sweatshop, the workforce of the exSoviet Union and the ex-colonies doesnt correspond to the primitive consciousness of the colonised by Western European imperial forces (Spain, France, England). Modernity did not arrive in Central Asia and the Caucasus through Western Christianity and liberalism, but through the Russian Empires imitation of Western liberalism and the Soviet Unions enactment of socialism. Thus, if these instances of the workforce and 112


primitive consciousness (the concerns of Robbins and Spivak) do not match the reality of post-Soviet space, neither does the profile of the intellectual. Tlostanova makes the point that an intellectual from the Soviet (ex-)colonies in Moscow is equivalent to yet at the same time different from Third World intellectuals from India, the Maghreb or Latin America in France, England or the US.3 The reasons are obvious: Western Christian and liberal modernities are equivalent to but also different from Eastern Christian and socialist modernities in Russia/USSR, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Tlostanova is not pleading for inclusion but instead making a forceful affirmation. In so doing, she simultaneously unveils the shortcomings and blindness of global perspectives suggested by Robbinss and Spivaks European post-Enlightenment conception of imperial/colonial relations between England and India (South Asia). Now, the crucial point here is not just to bring a forgotten object into the picture, but a relegated intellectual subject, suppressed and indirectly spoken by the First World Marxist and the Third World post-colonial (and proMarxist) intellectual. Tlostanova has taken a courageous step in claiming * following the teaching of Gloria Anzaldu a * an epistemic stance that is geohistorically and bodily configured, crossed and marked by racial, colonial and patriarchal differences. By the same token, she also rejects the assumption that epistemology is a non-located space inhabited by minds without bodies. However, the very claim that knowledge and understanding are geohistorically and bodily located cannot be made from a non-located and disembodied place. When you shift from the assumption that there is a celestial epistemic space from where the world and human beings can be understood, to a notion of embodiment and emplacement from where the human and the world are understood, you de-couple the spell of modernity and the Western uni-versal and enter the terrain of the multiple borders of modernity/ coloniality * that is, the pluri-versal. II Tlostanovas critical reflections on transcultural subjectivity and aesthetics follow her monograph, Janus-Faced Empire : Notes on the Russian Empire in Modernity Written from the Border, and her lengthy 2004 study of transcultural aesthetics, Living Never, Writing from Nowhere: Post-Soviet Literature and the Transcultural Aesthetics.4 In SG , Tlostanova recasts many of the issues she addressed in Living Never. In all three works, her multifaceted, complex and sophisticated analyses are brought together by two simple but effective principles: imperial and colonial differences in the history of the Russian/Soviet empire and in the space of their colonies in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.5 In SG , Tlostanova begins by stating that post-colonial studies or theories do not account for the historical role of Russia/Soviet Union in the modern world and even less so for the Russian and Soviet colonies and their post-colonial condition after 1989. Tlostanova is not claiming that post-coloniality will or should have to account for this; on the contrary, she begins by interrogating 113


the fact that it didnt. What are the meanings and consequences of that silence * a silence or absence in post-colonial studies framed mainly by its focus on the experience of British India in tandem with post-modernity? By posing this question, Tlostanova shifts the geography of reason, as Jamaican philosopher Lewis Gordon would have it.6 She doesnt question the contribution of post-colonial critique and the concept of postcoloniality as it emerged in response to certain needs of post-partition India based on the experience of Indias decolonisation from the British Empire. Instead, she asserts that imperial/colonial power relations in the context of the history of the Russian/Soviet empire, and in relation to the ethnic, linguistic and religious complexities of the ex-colonies of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, depict a totally different scenario. Crucial to Tlostanovas argument, however, is the role that Russia/the Soviet Union (and currently the Russian Federation) has had and continues to play in the configuration of the modern/colonial world, particularly of the Westerns capitalist empires vis-a ` -vis the coeval Russian and Ottoman empires (empires that were not capitalist in the sense that Spain and Portugal, Holland, France, England and the US were in either the past or the present). To account for that role, Tlostanova introduces the complementary distinction of imperial and colonial differences. Russia was declared the Third Rome at the beginning of the sixteenth century (Janus-Faced Empire , p 12). That was the mission of Ivan the Terrible (1530 1584) and it was a sign of the empire to come.7 In the Atlantic, the foundation of capitalism as we know it today was also at its inception. Tlostanova points out three basic differences. First, the unprecedented appropriation of land and exploitation of labour that brought riches from America to Europe (Spanish and Portuguese silver and gold; British, Dutch and French Caribbean plantations and trade in slaves) has no parallel with the appropriation of land initiated by Ivan the Terrible. That is, Russia was founded as an empire in which capital was not transformed into modern capitalism. Second, Catholic and Protestant Christianity, along with the Latin alphabet in the West, became more and more distanced from Orthodox Christianity and its Slavic and Cyrillic alphabets. Thus, Russia was an empire translated into the Soviet Union. Peter the Great and Catherine the Great attempted, in the eighteenth century, to bring Russia closer to European achievements (secularism, enlightenment, industrial revolution and liberalism, and the new face of capitalism). Vladimir Lenin, at the beginning of the twentieth century, followed a European model to translate Russian empire into the Soviet Union (Janus-Faced Empire , pp 7 9). The consequences of this parallel, and in some ways interdependent, history are delineated by Tlostanova as follows:
The 1917 Revolution changed the faces of the Empire by redrawing imperial difference, transforming it from ethnic and religious configurations (Orthodox Slav). Thus the variegated spectrum of colonial differences with subjugated ethnicities and religions, generated by the expansion of the Russian Empire since



the 16th century, was transformed into ethnic and national characteristics in the Soviet Union. The collapse of the latter left Russia in a unique disorder in the sense that both the imperial difference from the West and the colonial differences from the ex-colonies have had and will have to be negotiated. The brutal opening of Russia to capitalist modernity (Joseph Stiglitz, Globalisation and Its Discontents , 2002), and the re-articulation of the war with Chechnya are some of the examples of this historical disarray and the urgent need for new sociohistorical conceptualisations from the borders and from the cracks of homogenising epistemic and ideological perspectives. (Janus-Faced Empire , pp 7 8)

Given the history of Russia/Soviet Union and Tlostanovas intellectual projects on the study of 1990s fiction * written in the ex-Soviet Union and ex-socialist European countries and exploring issues of empire (e.g., colonies, emerging nationalism, trans-cultural paradoxes), Tlostanova concludes stating that I find it more fitting to see these histories as trans-imperial, trans-cultural and trans-national rather than as post-colonial (or even postimperial) (Janus-Faced Empire , p 62). This is the point from which her next book, The Sublime of Globalization? Sketches on Transcultural Subjectivity and Aesthetics , takes off. III Tlostanova articulates the emplacement and embodiment of knowledge historically and with precision. In Janus-Faced Empire she moves away from the chronological dictates of linear and uni-versal history8 to the modern historicity of the making of imperial and colonial differences. History, in this version, begins towards the end of the fifteenth century and during the sixteenth century. How come? the reader may ask in disbelief. This is absurd. How could it be said that history begins in the sixteenth century!? The answer is that we are living in a present whose historical foundation is located in the sixteenth century. And we live in a present in which the ways in which we conceive the past and the present were shaped by the radical qualitative changes of that century * a century in which, for the first time in the history of humanity, European men explored and mapped the world, encountered unknown lands and people, and made human life dispensable in pursuit of the appropriation of land and exploitation of labour to produce commodities for a global market. Europe, and European men, were the historical agents of these changes and were also the epistemic agents who mapped and classified the world at the same time that they set the epistemic standard, supported by Christian theology, through which such mapping and classifying could properly be conducted.9 In the sixteenth century, European and Christian men, thinking within the frame of theology and being shaped by it, came up with a distribution of the world that Tlostanova articulates in terms of imperial and colonial differences. Western Christians, mainly in Spain and Portugal, encountered people unknown to Christians and Europeans whom they called Indians.10 Christians did not conquer and colonise Islam. They expelled Muslims from Spain. For them there was a significant difference between 115


Muslims in Europe and North Africa and Indians in Indias Occidentales (later called America). Christians in Spain (but also in France and England) knew very well that the Ottoman Empire was stronger if also stranger to them. Towards the middle of the century, Christians in the West would learn that Ivan the Terrible (who became the Tsar of Russia during the same year that Philip II became the King of Spain and Elizabeth I the Queen of England) was projecting an imperial expansion similar to their own designs. The Ottomans were Muslims and the Russian Christians were Orthodox. Yet Christians felt superior to them, and thus they articulated a classificatory discourse in which theology offered the epistemic authority to make the invented classification correspond with the reality of the world. Consequently, Muslims, Turks and Slavic Orthodox were inferior human beings, but they were also, in a different way, equally imperial. The imperial difference fabricated by Western Christians would later be translated into the secular language of Kant and of Hegel, and has more recently re-emerged in the language of political theory in Samuel Huntingtons clash of civilisations. However, Indians in the newly discovered world were not seen as comparable to the Ottomans, the Muslims or the Slavs. Their inferiority was considered extreme and was compared with that of children and women (and sometimes with that of Jews). In the same vein, African slaves were not linked to existing empires in Africa, but were considered the lowest in the scale of humanity, next to the beast. Indians and Blacks were part of the first wave of the colonisation of being * that is, by inventing and enacting a theological discourse that disqualified Indians and Blacks from the realms of humanity. And this was achieved by the fabrication of the colonial difference . Like the imperial difference, the colonial difference has been transformed and reproduced by its own logic until this very day. Aesthetics , both in the Greek tradition and in the subsequent rendering of Alexander G Baumgarten (1714 1762), was a discourse about feeling and sensing, about sentiments. It was Kant who added a new dimension: sensing the beautiful and the sublime. Tlostanovas transcultural aesthetics takes us, through Kant, back to Baumgarten, yet at the same time she makes a radical shift by exploring aesthetics (sensing, sentiments) through the lens of imperial and colonial differences. What one finds as the consequence of the manufacture of colonial difference is the colonial wound * people who have been wounded by being considered inferior, not quite human, not quite intelligent and sometimes not quite beautiful. One also finds other people who have been wounded in their imperial pride; that is, imperial sentiments emanating from empires that were not colonised manifest themselves not quite as colonial wound but as imperial pride. Tlostanova locates both imperial prides and colonial wounds within the current politics of the Russian Federation, as well as in the experiential complexities across Central Asia and the Caucasus; from the Caribbean to South Africa; and, in Pamuks Istanbul, through the imperial memories and modernising trauma of Turkey. In her fascinating analysis titled The Chronotope of the City (III, 2.4, pp 219 249), Tlostanova concentrates on three narratives: Andrey Voloss Khurramabad , Afanasy Mamedovs Buscow (a combination of Baku and 116


Moscow), and Orhan Pamuks The Black Book . Through the analysis of a Russian writer (Volos) who narrates and reflects on the uncomfortable sensibilities of Russians remaining in the ex-Soviet colony of Tajikistan after the collapse of communism (as well as the sensibility of a Russian scientist who decides to dwell in Tajikistan and become one of them), Tlostanova explores transcultural sensibilities (that is, aesthesis ) at the crossing of the colonial difference in Central Asia and brings home what modernity has meant throughout the Russian/Soviet empires. Through the analysis of Mamedovs Buscow, Tlostanova explores the equivalent, in the Russian/ Soviet sphere, of the Third World intellectual in the history of Western and capitalist empires: Mamedov leaves the colony of Azerbaijan and moves to Moscow, a route similar to someone leaving Bombay and moving to England and exploring from there the transcultural sensibilities of colonial subjects in imperial territory (e.g. her recent novel).11 And through the analysis of Pamuks The Black Book , Tlostanova explores the complex sensibility formed by layers of memories in a geo-historical configuration where Eastern Christianity and Anatolia, Asia and Europe, Muslims and Russians/Soviets created a palimpsest that Ataturk intended to flatten and erase with a patina of European modernity (and where, more recently, the thin layer of modernity has been reactivated by Turkeys official desire to belong to the European Union).12 The sensibilities that transpire in the characters of all these narratives, and of course, the sensibility that the author himself is not just exploring but is also constructing and nourishing, mirror what Tlostanova herself is doing. Like Mamedov, Tlostanova left the ex-colony of Kabardino-Balkaria (today a republic of the Russian Federation), to reside in Moscow. Like Mamedov (or as a Third World intellectual in the West), she dwells on the border of colonial difference. As a Muslim through her early family education, she is like a Berber in France or a Latina in the US. In a nutshell: the transcultural aesthetics (sensibility) that Tlostanova explores in and from the ex-Second World and the ex-Soviet colonies in Central Asia and in the Caucasus is just on the cusp of a transcultural aesthetic (that is, a sensibility that dwells in colonial wounds and imperial prides) that in a neo-liberal global configuration is on the move, de-linking and building a subjectivity that is no longer that of the modern subject upon whose experience Baumgarten, the Adam Smith of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the Kant of the beautiful and the sublime theorised their own European male experience, projecting it onto the globe under the pretence that their local sensibility was uni-global if not uni-versal.13 Throughout SG , Tlostanova analyses the transcultural aesthetics of various Caribbean writers in the French and British Caribbean. She also dwells and reflects on J M Coetzees and Achmat Dangors complex imperial/ colonial sensibilities in South Africa. But she pays attention too to Australians in the US, like Peter Carey, or Americans in Hong Kong (the Paul Theroux of Kowloon Tong ), in addition juxtaposing her own experience and sensibility (and not comparing through some comparative literary 117


method!) brilliantly with Paul Bowless A Distant Episode (located in North Africa) and Andrey Voloss The Native (located in Tajikistan) (SG , pp 181 202). When I read the argument that ran through the sketches of SG I began to understand that what we have here is no longer a different version of the postcolonial but something else, a contribution to the de-colonial option that emerged at the very inception of imperial/colonial expansion in the sixteenth century and ran over the course of centuries, not in Europe, but in the Americas, in Asia and in Africa. The de-colonial option emerges when the geography of reason is shifted, when we no longer attempt to understand the colonial wound in which transcultural subjectivities and aesthesis are grounded and in-corporated from the perspective of European poststructuralist critics but, rather, interrogate them from the perspective of transcultural subjectivities (e.g. writers, artists, philosophers, activists).14 IV Not long ago I was talking with a colleague at Duke, standing in the hallway, and in the conversation I said something like, Well, we should think in terms of de-colonising aesthetics. He looked through the window, thought for a moment and said: I have a class now [which I knew was true] but I would like to talk more about this. What do you mean by de-colonising aesthetics? Who colonised it? The question was honest, but for me unexpected and surprising. I was not aware that that question could be asked. I responded: No, it is not that aesthetics was colonised. It is the case that aesthetics, in its Western version was * like language in Nebrijas example * the Empires companion. Aesthetics contributed to the colonisation of being, that is, of sensibility. Tlostanovas superb effort to de-colonise aesthetics; that is, sensibility or, better yet, to de-colonise being. Her analysis is not based on some updating of comparative literature (or the comparative study of literature, which is grounded in Western sensibility), nor on applying post-colonial theory to a new area. Her analysis of world literature is nourished from her own sensibility and experience, dwelling in the colonial wound and feeling Russian wounded imperial pride. It is a fine contribution to anti-colonial aesthetics and to the de-colonisation of knowledge and of being. I end with Tlostanovas words in the introduction to SG :
This juxtaposition of post-soviet writers and their transcultural counterparts from all over the world does not imply at all that my book is based on traditional comparative principles, where the point of reference is invariably Western European aesthetics, while the comparison itself is based on the principle of similarity and not difference. The parallels, echoes and possible connections between the authors from various locales, particularly marked with a complex configuration of imperial and colonial differences, are generated not by influences, affinities and borrowings and not by a telepathic connection that Vladimir Nabokov was making fun of several decades ago, but by the fact that all of them * an Australian, a South African, a Turk, an Azeri, a West Indian or Russian writer * have to share a common lot * living and being in the logic of



Western modernity, which determined several centuries ago their specific roles and hierarchical positions. These roles were proclaimed stable and given once and for all, and hence the people who were assigned these positions by Western modernity were presented with particular subjectivities, with the painful attention to specific themes, artistic devices and optics. Today all of them are united as well by the new role of post-national individuals who have to exist in and adapt to the logic of globalisation. It is this global community of fate that creates unexpected parallels in their works and is responsible for the birth of a specific border aesthetics and sensibility. (pp 10 11)

The de-colonial option is not just a new way of referring to post-colonial studies or theories. It is something else whose profile is coming into being. The de-colonial shift in the geography of reason dislocates the centrality of Euro-centred epistemology and subjectivity. Tlostanovas work in Central Asian and Caucasus thinking, and in broader border thinking and aesthetics, is part of the epistemic disobedience that de-colonial projects are introducing.


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This essay grew out of collaborative work with Madina Tlostanova that started in 2001, when we met at a seminar on the post-colonial question in Eastern Europe, sponsored by the Soros Foundation, at the Humanities European University in Minsk (Belarus). Some of the results of this collaboration are the recent special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly (105(3), 2006) that we co-edited, titled Double Critique: Knowledges and Scholars at Risk in the Post-Socialist World , and two co-authored articles: Theorising from the Border: Shifting to the Geo/Body Politics of Knowledge, European Journal of Social Theory 9(2), 2006, pp 205 221; The Logic of Coloniality and the Limits of Postcoloniality, in The Postcolonial and the Global , ed. Revathi Krishnaswamy and Paul Hawley, University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming. Bruce Robbins, The Sweatshop Sublime, PMLA , 117 (1), 2002, pp 84 97. Tlostanova explores this issue in more detail in Part I of SG , Post-Soviet Intellectuals between the Devil of the State and the Deep Blue Sea of the Market, pp 13 71. Moscow: Editorial URSS, 2004. Published in Russian; an English translation by the author is still unpublished. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the invisibility of Central Asia and the Caucasus remained somewhat beyond the gaze of progressive and critical intellectuals until recently. Susan Buck-Morss, who published an important book on the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, engaged in a series of reections on the global left after 2001. In that context, she dened the post-Soviet condition not just as one that affects the Russian Federation and the ex-colonies of the Russian and the Soviet empires, but as indeed the global condition: neo-liberalism without borders after the collapse of the Soviet Union (The Post-Soviet Condition, in Islam, Latinite , Transmodernite , Textes de Re fe rence, Colloque International, Ancara-Istanbul, 12 16 April 2006, pp 412 428). A recent dossier of PMLA , Forum: Conference Debates , published the papers of one panel of the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (29 December 2005, Washington, DC; PMLA 121(3), 2006, pp 828 836). There is also a previous article written by David Chioni Moore, Is the Post- in Post-colonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Toward a Global Postcolonial Critique (PMLA 16(1), 2001, pp 111 128). The article was part of the special forum Globalising Literary Studies . The forum and Chioni Moores paper are good examples of the dangers we should avoid and which a decolonial perspective is trying to underline: global literary studies, global post-colonial critique, the global left are all imperial designs; imperial post-coloniality differs in content from imperial postmodernity; and both differ ideologically from imperial neo-liberalism, but they are all part of the same global project from the empire outward. The de-colonial attempts to shift the geography of reason and of knowledge and works from the cracks of epistemic differences, border thinking, and transcultural subjectivities and aesthetics.




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I am here intentionally working out the parallel between a cultural critic from the Caucasus living in Moscow and a Jamaican philosopher living in the US, which I follow up below. Note that Phillip II of Spain (1527 1598), who took charge of the administration of the Indies and brought enormous wealth to Spain and Europe in gold and silver, was a contemporary of Ivan, and also, of course, of Elizabeth I of England (1533 1603). Whether the Christian version of the Worlds creation by God, the Hegelian secular version of the Spirit dwelling somewhere in the East and slowly moving West to occupy the present of Germany in Hegels time, or the Marxist replacement of the Spirit by Class Struggle. Tlostanova has further explored and expanded this crucial conceptual articulation elsewhere. See, for instance: Post-Socialist Eurasia in the Civilisation of Fear: Another Christianity and Another Islam, in me Colloque He ge monie et Civilisation de la Peur (Textes de Re fe rence), ed. Candido Mendes, 9e International, Academie de la Latinite , Alexandrie, 13 17 April, 2004, pp 389 412; Seduced by Modernity: Why Turkey Can Be/Become European and Russia Cannot, in Islam, Latinite , Transmodernite (Textes de Re fe rence), ed. Candido Mendes, 11eme Colloque International, AnkaraIstanbul, 12 16 April, 2006, pp 305 335; and Transcultural Tricksters in between Empires: EurasianIslamic Borderlands in Modernity, in Culture of Differences in Eurasia: Azerbaijan Past and Present in the Dialogue of Civilisation (Textes de Re fe rence), ed. Candido Mendes, Academie de la Latinite , Baku, 19 21 April, 2006, pp 217 252. Whether others * Chinese or Vikings, for example * earlier encountered the people called Indians is a moot point. The point is not who was rst * but who changed the world by reorganising knowledge in such a radical way. I am a stranger in your world (in Russian), Moscow: Editorial URSSS, 2006. Vitaly Chernetsky summarises parts of Tlostanovas argument developed in the Russian language edition of her book (Postsovetskaia literature i estetika tarnskulturatsii (Post-Soviet Literature and the Aesthetics of Transculturation ). He refers to writers from Russia (Volos) and Azerbaijan (Mamedov) and two Ukrainian writers (Andurkhovych and Zabuzhko), although Tlostanova engages with several other border and transcultural writers (Orhan Pamuk, Peter Carey, David Dabydeen, Derek Walcott, J M Coetzee, Wilson Harris, Paul Theroux, Achmat Dangor, etc.). Tlostanovas reections on border and transcultural aesthesis are not a study of post-Soviet writers but a reection and enactment of border thinking from her own experience (I mean by experience that which is imprinted by the traces of the colonial wound), and from writers in the region as well as around the world. For further exploration of the epistemic shift, dwelling and thinking in/from the borders, see Walter D Mignolo and Madina Tlostanova, Theorising from the Border: Shifting to the Geo/Body Politics of Knowledge, European Journal of Social Theory 9(2), 2006, pp 205 221. Here we nd also the singularity of the de-colonial in relation to the post-colonial common to Indigenous intellectuals in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand (see for instance Maori academic and intellectual Linda Tuhiwai Smith, De-colonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous People , Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 1999 * the book is already in its 9th edition; Indigenising the Academy: Transforming Scholarship and Empowering Communities , ed. Devon Abbott Mihesuah and Angela Carvender Wilson, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004). The de-colonial option runs through Latino/as and Latina/s in the US as well as among Afro-Latino/as and mestizo/as and immigrants from European descent in South America (see, for instance, Theorising Coloniality, Border Thinking and Transmodernity, by Ramo n Grosfo guel, Nelson Maldonado-Torres and Jose David Sald var, an introductory text to their collective co-edited volume, Unsettling Postcoloniality: Coloniality, Border Thinking and Transmodernity , Durham, NC: Duke University Press, forthcoming). The de-colonial option (rather than post-colonial studies and theory) characterises the Afro-Caribbean philosophical project described as shifting the geography of reason. See, in this respect, Lewis Gordons recent magisterial argument, Disciplinary Decadence: Living Thought in Trying Times , Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2006, particularly Prosperos World, Calibans Reason, pp 107 133.