Rada Ivekovic

Université di Saint-Etienne

Confini / Grenzen

Convegno di studi / Studientagung

Bolzano-Bozen, 23-25 settembre/ 23.-25. September 2004

Confini e partitions: l’eccezione come spazio e/o come tempo?

In her book No Woman’s Land. Women from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh Write on the Partition of India, Ritu Menon and her authors [1] have confirmed that the Modern Nation has no place for women, and that citizenship was not really meant for them. Other writers and scholars have shown that these do not include colonised populations [2] or groups rendered subaltern in different ways (“inward colonisation”). Or rather, that nation and citizenship apply to women, to the colonised, to the conquered and variously downtrodden – in a subordinate way. Borders on the land or boundaries in the minds – partages de la raison – are lines drawn to produce difference, then to hierarchize it and finally to render it normative. In that sense, the view of the delay of female citizenship in time (some 150 years, in France, against “universal” i.e. male suffrage) or of the backwardness of Third World countries compared with the West, which are as many attempts to set a boundary in time between Modern and pre-Modern, are themselves useless or normative viewpoints. They will now have to be abandoned if we want to move away from a Eurocentric perspective towards diverse sconfinamenti. What may substantially correct the more traditional Eurocentric approach to borders and boundaries [3] is “positioning oneself there where thinking is a vital necessity” [4] . We might want to meditate on that: not rooting the “subject position” or rather the “process that the subject is” in the ego-position (individual or collective), but rather centring it on the side of vital necessity: there, where thinking is the last recourse to survival and to the existential. Also, introducing the dimension of time as here, permits to reflect on (dis)continuities and on transmission from generation to generation. Isn’t the laïcité, which in France was thought historically as the basis of the Republic, of the state of law, and transmitted over a centralised system of public an free of charge schools, now in danger of becoming the exact opposite of its own secular ideal when it yields to the generation conflict which dismantles the political dimension by the prevailing of authoritarianism? As Bertrand Ogilvie rightly says, ‘Le seul moyen d’éviter cette dés-institution perpétuelle du politique est de créer une structure qui permette à chaque moment du temps, pour chaque classe d’âge successive, de recréer les conditions concrètes dans lesquelles la constitution puisse être en quelque sorte ‘re-voulue’ (ou modifiée) ‘en connaissance de cause’. D’où l’importance décisive de la connaissance dans la perpétuelle re-fondation du politique” [5]. The sconfinamento, the repositioning of oneself with respect of thinking as a vital need and in a non-self-centred universe requires, indeed, time, it requires the longue durée of political processes, education, negotiation, confidence building, disarmament, yielding power, building-up of secularism [6].

It was comfortable once to think of exception as being just exception, or as partition being un exceptional “event” But what if partitioning were the very dynamics of the state and of intr- and international tentions?[7] As many of us or our friends nowadays study the phenomenon of exception becoming the rule, it would be a good idea to scrutinise the effects of exception when shifted or displaced in time as well as in many ways, the exception has always been the rule, but not always for “us”, not always for the same. We discover a shifting subject as to the concept of exception, which is always an exception regarding someone. Somehow, the exception seems always to concern the subject “us”. The exception is the remote, the other. That which is seen as “normalcy” in one place, is the “exception” elsewhere: for example, Westerners often think that castes in India are an “exception” to some normalcy, which also means that they imagine them as added to society. So José Bové could ask, naively, the Indian government to eliminate castes (I don’t remember him asking Chirac to do away with class). His idea is that, once you “remove” caste, there remains a “normal”, certainly in his view a Western-like society (“casteless”). What looks normal on one side, looks like the exception on the other. In the mentioned paper, S. Deshpande says that the “oppressive hierarchy [of caste] is so deeply embedded in tradition that it becomes part of ordinary common sense”, and adds that with regard to that, an additional step seemed to be, in the Gujrat disturbance of 2002, “seeking to integrate riots into normal life”. There is nothing new in the generalisation of exception. However an exception is necessarily limited not only in space, but also in time.

It is then also the concept of “normalcy”, as Satish Deshpande [8] rightly suggests, that needs to be revisited. The “exception”, after all, is an exception only if/when confronted to something else, to a “normalcy”. “Normalcy” and “exception” are mutually shaped. I have called this le partage de la raison, or the Doublespeak of Reason. The generalisation of exception is not so new as some of us may want to believe when they refer to Carl Schmitt or when they think of the extension/generalisation of borders and the shrinking of habitable territories, of Guantanamo, Sangatte, Nazi Camps, detention zones, retentions centres, torture in Iraq, deportations and ethnic cleansing, boat people etc. Western normalcy in the past was sustained by the worldwide “exception” of colonialism. What we need to add to the definition of an exception is that is it limited in time and space or to a context, even as it gets “generalised”.

I shall take “translation” as a way of dealing with producing exception [9]. Translation is about crossing borders, or in some cases about producing borders – for example when translating from Serbian into Croatia, from Urdu into Hindi, or from Russian into Ukrainian (where anyone understands Russian). So translation testifies to some resistance. Besides seeing it as resistance, I would like to suggest that translation is the original mother tongue of humankind, in the sense that there is no language that does not reach out to the other (self; person, or group) and intend meaning even when monologic, as well as meaning a technique of negotiation and a strategy of survival in common and in integration. The concept of translation as the mother tongue implies the border as your country. Of course, these may be more or less uncomfortable. People can have borders for their countries for different reasons, willingly or compelled. Most have no choice and in that sense borders are not to be celebrated. It is an unstable and uncomfortable position, a tragic one, when not chosen. For most of the migrant and undocumented population today, the various refugees and exiles, it is far from being sexy. For the elites, but also for non nationalists or non fundamentalists in general, it may be an escape from nationalist or “cultural” ghettoes. The relationship to transborder translation, as well as to borders tout court, then, is very ambiguous. You need to learn living at the border as in permanent challenge and insecurity. Is there anything else in Palestine/Israel but the border? The whole surface of the countries has become an all-encompassing border, a death trap. Borders are also states of exception. Through their extension to situations like the last mentioned, they tend to become permanent exceptions. This state of exception, becoming nowadays the rule and dangerously inverting the scheme of the saying that the exception confirms the rule – now indicates that the exception of the untenable has spread so as to become the rule: as borders in Europe “disappear”, some much more terrible borders appear elsewhere, everywhere and tend to generalise. Borders expand, extend with centres of detention, of retention, spaces retrieved from publicity, withdrawn from public space, as the space between them shrinks. This is a situation unknown to this extent before globalisation: fortress Europe [10], open camps for undocumented “aliens” in different European countries, boat-people crossing the Mediterranean to a well guarded southern border, captains now indicted for favouring illegal immigration whereas before a captain would be accused if not helping men at sea…internment and filing of foreigners, the Israeli wall against Palestine, the USA wall facing Mexico, torture, humiliation and ill-treatment of prisoners in Iraq by the US Army and coalition forces, Guantanamo (a space out of all legal and legitimate spaces) – all that is quite up to the level of the now almost “benign” Berlin Wall and various Gulags, because there is no more checking, no translation, and no double meaning, no reading between the lines in this new era of Newspeak. This is our situation today, which won’t allow us to idealise borders.

Apart from that, translation as a transborder operation is complicated by all sorts of circumstances, and in particular by the context. It is also thorny due to the relationship of the two things to be translated, which is necessarily a relationship of inequality in the sense that one of them is translated into the idiom of the other, thus creating a typical situation of différend [11]. There remains something unsaid in this situation, or again there is a “transborder” residue of what has no language; which is more or less the same thing as saying that there is something unheard, an inaccessible space – a no-woman’s land. It is the body and the order of bodies. This basic inequality, which is already political (before there is any such thing as politics), can still be aggravated by historical circumstances that have made one of the two terms of the relationship – dominant. Since Foucault, at least, but also as a result of work done by anthropologists and psychoanalysts, we know that in the last analysis it is a question of the body. I mean thereby both physical individual bodies as well as social bodies. And there are other disciplinary, and undisciplined, approaches, such as feminist theory, post-colonial studies etc., which tell us that what cannot be articulated or understood in conventional language also comes from the other, from the “untranslatable” transborder side – for example the Black Atlantic, from the immediate experience of repression, the limit of which is also very much the body. It is somehow with the body, or within the body, that there remains an inviolable space, the transborder body not exhausted in itself or by violence. As much as violence, of course, destroys bodies, these, together with all that comes with them, living bodies and collective too, also survive, resist, overcome, though individual lives and whole communities may be lost. You could say – life survives death (as death interrupts life), it goes beyond, crosses the border between the two – indeed a major borderline runes between life and death – inasmuch as it is cancelled: life-and-death are really two sides of the same coin, incompossible but inseparable. They are one whole.

All of this boils down to the idea that translation involves bodies, movement and time; and this is the sense, both extended and restricted, in which I am using it here. An instance of organ-transplantation/intrusion-of-another-body would in this respect be no more than an extremely dramatic individual case in point. And it is in this “primary” sense that I will now take up the theme of the politics of translation, through our position as (female) mediators, both translators and translated. In this paradoxical position of holding both sides of the stick [12] it is however not easy (and traditionally, not allowed) to tackle the fundamental question of the more general political circumstances of translation/intrusion. I will also take the opportunity to project another exercise in intermediacy, border crossing, above and beyond what has just been put forward, namely that which could take shape between “Western” philosophies and certain concepts to be found in “Indian” philosophies. What is to be translated is not texts, but contexts. And what encourages me to do so is the crisis, the critical situation in which the body finds itself; because the body (chronically always, but acutely – often), discovering itself called into question, heads towards translation, communication or transformation, as the only way out. It is the body, for its life, that grasps toward translation. In doing so it may both hit and cross borders. A border invites a transborder situation and lives by it, as well as vice-versa. The “identities”, spread on both sides of the line of partition/division (partage in the French double sense) then [13]. On another level, Veena Das, talking about analogous situations, used the term “critical events” [14].

Experience teaches us that translation always takes place, and is always unsatisfactory. The feeling of imperfection or incompleteness that results from every border crossing or attempt at translation is not confined to this experience alone. More profoundly, it characterises the human condition, the existential paradox of being at once mortal and destined for immortality, at once limited and unlimited. No language, no translation, no “inter-pretation” can express this completely, because that process is never closed. Our condition, our origin, our final state is situated neither in the term to be translated nor in the result of the translation, but rather in this unbearable, intolerable inter-, between-two that we nonetheless tolerate: the border, the transborder situation. It is the paradox of having a body and not being reducible to it, but not being able to live or think without it either. It is true that this condition could change when we (but who is “we”?) get to the point of thinking without bodies [15], and it may be that we (?) are approaching that point. But I will not speculate on this ideal identity between the self and (one)self, whose will and effects of violence I have discussed elsewhere [16]. Translation (and life itself) takes place in this un-conditionality, this imperative of the animated body [17]. As such, translation is no more than a relationship, being nothing in itself and without its terms. And so are borders. It is thus the line between life and death that keeps life on, that allows for translation and movement. It is never “only” a question of the body, but also of the way in which the condition of the being is enfolded by it (without, but also with, organs; anatomy or not), and reciprocally, but not symmetrically, a certain “translation” lies in the way that the prism of the psychical, social and historical refracts the body. In this sense, we will always have been a graft of ourselves as other, overcoming our own bodily (and…?) borders. And grafts can add onto others, thus complicating things, as Jean-Luc Nancy shows in L’Intrus [18]. Life grows out of life, however “imperfect”. Not only is animated corporality the condition of translation, but it makes translation necessary: there is no situation other than translation; there is no pure “natural” state that is still untranslated or unreflected. Even total incomprehension demonstrates this. To imagine a state (of language, or civilisation) before all translation and transborder movement [19] would be like imagining a body without a “soul”, a pure nature, or biological sex clearly distinct from gender, outside of all mediation. This would mean falling into the nature-culture, sex-gender, female-male, subject-object, interior-exterior dichotomy. It would also mean imagining that, in the dyad, the two terms could be equal, symmetrical, and without any implicit hierarchy. Culture is first and foremost a matter of translation, even within a given language. But language (re)produces – and thrives on – not only differences and borders, but also inequalities. Any border is indeed ineffable, because it is a crossing line, a vanishing meeting point and because it is nothing in itself, being all in a relationship of the twain that tries hard to build separate and autonomous identities.

Translation is preceded by many experiences of mediation as borders are subject to negotiations (or to wars), and by many intimidating obstacles, attempts at establishing borders.

As since the borders have been redrawn and states redefined in the peninsula, and as alternative cultural centres and NGOs in Skopje organize a conference on Postcolonial critique and the Balkans (inviting Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak) in 2003, as the opposition Belgrade Circle publishes Subaltern and Post-colonial authors, as the Centre for Women’s Studies in Zagreb gives courses on post-colonial literature and movements for borders and conflicts, one can only conclude to a suddenly growing interest for cultural, peace, colonial and post-colonial studies in the Balkans as well. But nobody wants to identify with the Bad Guys, everyone will now be a “Subaltern”, both the victims and those, although not themselves nationalists, whose leaders have been perpetrators. At the same time most have forgotten the non-aligned and third-worldist policy of the former Yugoslavia, which shows the non-contemporaneity of history and historiography. It is again an issue of time. One can only deplore a gap here, and a postponed remembrance, a displaced or shifted recollection. Non-alignment was a boring official discourse then, and therefore uninteresting, while all eyes were directed towards the great consumerist model. The real-socialist pattern was generally abhorred while pride was nevertheless taken in the Yugoslav resistance to Nazism and Stalinism, as much as the post-colonial one was unrecognised as akin, largely ignored because hammered as the official example. Deeper similarities between the socialist and the third-wordlist post-colonial blueprint remained unknown. So the present belated recognition of a once existing but fundamentally neglected parentage has some characteristics of all the “post-” movements starting with post-modernism: they execute a strange “loop” in time with a petitio principii in the “post-“. Of course, we know that consciousness is always belated in a way, and that received history masks for us the diverse and possibly many scripts of alternative histories. The displacement / being out of place, in other words (e)migration or being apatrids, which is a general human condition but so palpable in situations of partitions and wars, was recognised by the Balkans only when it happened here itself – i.e. 50 after the South Asian example or other examples, in spite of the former non-aligned ideology. It seems that it is our own narration and physical suffering that brings home to us a reality or, no-one else’s life can feel as real as our own. Here appears again the “us” against which the exception is defined. But various contemporary nationalisms and fundamentalisms rely on post-colonial discourses of other times, and trick their public. A narration is linked to a space, or “translates a space into place [20]”, transforms a utopia into a topos. Non-aligned citizens had no narrative field for the concept of “partition” until the connection to it was made, and its meaning was given by their own experience and with reference to “their” (“our”) bodies, territory, culture and identity. It is in a way when it lost a territory (the Yugoslav space as a whole) and its referent other, the “non-aligned” that it – the non-nationalist opposition – earned itself a narrative field for post-colonial imagination. It is when new borders appeared on the ground that paradoxically the condition sprang up for them to disappear in some minds (or to gain much consistence in others). The post-colonial text is now the deviation of “our” own unconscious. There is a paradox here, inasmuch as the strategy of anti-colonial and anti-imperial resistance is structured by the wish to reshuffle the relationship to the other (between “us” and “them”) through a translation of the past or of the unconscious into the new common narrative field while avoiding binaries, which also means reconstructing the hegemony, whereas all the players in the game are being replaced or transformed. No easy task, if at all possible.

Certainly, one could argue that land conquered by Empires, in the European case neighbouring countries, are forgotten “colonialisms”. It is a matter of definition but it is not philosophically challenging. My point is that such a decision, whether to encompass or not such cases into the description of colonialism – is itself always necessarily a territorially located decision, one with a priori borders, a matter informed ideologically (pro or con); and that this is itself a part of a partage de la raison.

Historically, there are two partly converging lines in the origin of the modern concept of self-determination based on state sovereignty, after the turning point known as the Westphalian Treaty (1648) at the very end of the Middle Ages and at the end of domination of the Catholic Church over kingdoms in Europe: one of them was shaped by Lenin, the other by Woodrow Wilson; starting from the Nation State, they have many things in common, and particularly the idea of self-determination.

The level of inclusion (subordinate within a unit or as one of equal units) is one of the possible elements to judge a colonialism or a sovereignty by, but there are of course many ways to foil proclaimed “good intentions”.

The partaking of all equally in the common good (“equal rights of nations”) was certainly not achieved and not even quite intended by any of the known systems, there was some merit and effectiveness in the universalising principle (much as the principles of French Revolution): a principle of equality formally recognized for all (nations) which, although it was not implemented, could at least be invoked in further political struggles and would represent a landmark or a horizon in the history of ideas. As a matter of principle, this has comparatively the same importance as the possibility for women to appeal to the Declaration of universal rights of man and citizen, although it took 150 years for the latter to apply to them.

The concept of self-determination as well as the concept of sovereignty, the landmarks of political Modernity are, of course, products of borders and partitions, of partings and partakings as much as they reproduce them. Borders are themselves paradoxically both linkings and separations.

The recent upsurge of Islamist violence in Uzbekistan and possibly soon elsewhere in Central Asia is due much to the new avatars of the old historic Great Game, a great producer of borders since those times on even now, and the effect of the destabilisation of the region by the US war on Afghanistan and Iraq; its developments are still to be seen. The Great Game was the conflict of colonialisms (mainly Russian and British) in Asia, centred on the areas surrounding Afghanistan (which itself remained unsubdued thanks to the Great Game itself until the Soviet invasion in 1979) and its larger region. Much as there has been an ongoing conflict of colonialisms in Africa (mainly French and British) of which Rwanda, the Great Lakes and today Ivory Cost are probably the ultimate incarnations. The celebration, in April 2004, of the centenary of the 1904 Entente cordiale over colonies and colonial reciprocal wars through an official visit of Queen Elisabeth II to France upon a business nobody dares to spell out, bears witness to the present history and to the future prospective of that colonial past: “the 1904 pact reflected the two colonial powers’ desire to resolve long-running territorial disputes. But the two also shared a common suspicion of Germany’s growing military and naval strength. At the time, France’s relationship with Britain was its most important foreign alliance. They were two fellow imperialists. Their rivalries, and mutual suspicion, ran deep” [21]. In Central Asia, the Great Game added Russia to the partners, thus producing a triad of players and amounting between 1904-1907 to the Triple entente, sealed by 1914 before WW I – to counter Germany but also to defend colonial vested interests [22]. Historically, the United States countered those conflicts and interests (until the Suez conflict in 1956, where they opposed the French and the British), but the latter have gradually been replaced by American new imperialism starting with the Korean and the Vietnam wars, all the way into this last Bush era. Out of the historic (and itself intrinsically colonial, but independentist) American resistance to European colonialisms, the other line (compared to Lenin’s)in the origin of the concept of self-determination is that of Woodrow Wilson at the Peace conference in 1919, where it appeared together with the idea of the right to collective security (including setting borders), and paved the way to the Society of Nations and the USA’s National Security Doctrine. Wilson intended thereby to counter British and French colonialism. The concept of self-determination, upon which during the Cold War both political blocks relied in order to achieve the balance of power, was to be used as the basis for post-colonial independencies, as the basic principle of “non-alignment” and as the guarantee of the Cold War equilibrium. But those same borders would have to be torn in partitioned independencies, and new ones would be created.

Not only has the national state been a colonial state, but it necessarily leads to the securitarian state as we now know. But the main point I want to press may be that colonialism, which still informs our culture, our way of thinking, our world order, including the way Europe is being constructed – is not an isolated event in the past, a past event. I take colonialism to be part of the same process, indeed to be the same thing as, the production of borders as territorial and symbolic markers, separators, identity-building frameworks. It is also here that colonialism, borders and the gender divide are intimately interdependent: women symbolically represent in their bodies, national territories, the “motherland”, as also the borders: crossing borders in wars is therefore regularly linked with mass rape as the marking of territories and as shifting the line of demarcation with the alien. Colonialism as a long-term project part of the Nation, with border establishing as an on-going constant process, seems to have been and to be a basic component and tendency of the state itself: of the national state as such with its European epicentre.

I would suggest we also insist in exploring the parallelism, the contemporaneity, the complementarity and, indeed, the unity of outer colonialism together with its ethnic cleansings at a planetary scale, with that inner colonisation that was the most remarkable of all the rifts in reason – the gender hierarchy seen as inner colonisation [23].

It is surprising how recent history, since the Nineties, has erased the once substantial difference between the perception of the Soviet Block and Yugoslavia, or between state socialism (or state Capitalism, as some call it) in one case, and self-managed Socialism in the other.

But both the local history, and the international context then, as well as now, of Yugoslavia and the Eastern Block mark a substantial difference and not just one of degrees. What makes it “similar” to less analytic thinking today, is the erasure of history, of 50 years of real history of materially lived lives of people of my generation. This amnesia is amazing, it is itself depoliticising the issues and dehistoricising them. There was recently a programme on Euronews which filmed and “showed” where in Gorizia/Nova Gorica (Slovenia/Italy) “the Iron Curtain used to run”! The journalist was so ignorant that s/he didn’t know that that was an open state border where people travelled both sides, did their shopping or worked on the other side, and that Yugoslavs had passports with which they travelled abroad. That is more than a substantial difference, it says something about the régime. But what makes the former

Yugoslavia now look more like the eastern block once, is the general pauperisation, militarisation, primitivisation due to the last war [(I am not entering reasons of the latter, they are complex, but partly they are due to the systemic crumbling of the Cold War equilibrium; other more important reasons are economic + the making of Europe and the fact that the reforms started by Ante Markovic were not trusted by the West which trusted more nationalist leaders (Milosevic and Tudjman! resulting from “free elections”; etc not forgetting, more than anything else, inner, well all-Yugoslav responsibilities for the conflict, etc)]. One other element of amnesia which makes some people think now that Yugoslavia was “like the Eastern Block” and therefore just a matter of degrees is that they make no difference between the former Yugoslav regime, created by a “‘soft’ dictator” (irony included!) Tito and many times reformed (that country lasted until 1991: last prime minister Ante Markovic) and the regime of Milosevic in Serbia which imposed on the rest of the country whatever happened thereafter, including ethnic cleansing in all directions, and wars run from

Belgrade. From that point of view they ignore that Yugoslavia broke away from Stalin and Russia in 1948. They also probably don’t know that Yugoslavia did have an important resistance movement and was self-liberated from German nazis and Italian fascists (also, from Bulgarian fascists on its Eastern front) during World War II. The important difference between Yugoslavia and the Soviet satellites was that it wasn’t the Red Army that liberated it although it did enter there – and retrieve. If you class Yugoslavia with the rest from a present point of view and thereby change the past, you forget all that and many other things, embark on an ideological simplification, and make indeed very poor history, as most well intentioned “generalists” dealing with the topic do nowadays.

What I am interested in here is the way received history informs not only present and past, but through them the future too. Received history builds an immunisation of sorts, and immunisation against an open past and history, against alternative histories. Immunisation in this sense is of course the enemy of freedom. It is true that immunisation, as everyone knows through this medical simile, is also protection. But excessive protection is both suicidal as well as murderous. And it is the condition of creating exceptions and borders . Now, Roberto Esposito has shown very well the common origin of immunity and community [24]. We could conclude from it to the necessity of a balance between the two, a balance avoiding the deadly division of reason. That equilibrium is most certainly achieved by a measured retrieving of the self, of the “us”, of the centre opposed to the exception and defining it – the exception being the virus, the infection, the other, or anything across the border, including paradoxically the border itself as embodying the other.

It turns out, then that there is an important zone of inner alterity, inner border, inner other – that cannot be estranged or removed without threatening life at the centre, in us. But this is where the importance of thinking as a vital necessity, a vital stake, reappears: where thinking is no luxury.

Paris, 15-7-2004.


1- No Woman’s Land. Women from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh Write on the Partition of India, edited by Ritu Menon, Delhi, Women Unlimited 2004. See also Urvahsi Butalia (ed.), Speaking Peace. Women’s Voices from Kashmir, Delhi, Kali for Women 2002, as well as other books by the same authors and many books by other authors; see Urvahsi Butalia, The Other side of Silence. Voices from the Partition of India, Delhi, Viking 1998; Rada Ivekovic & Julie Mostov (eds.), From Gender to Nation, Ravenna, Longo Editore 2002; R. Ivekovic, Le sexe de la nation, Paris, Léo Scheer 2003; Dame Nation. Nation et différence des sexes, Ravenna, Longo Editore 2003.

Bartolomé Clavero, Genocidio y Justicia. La Destrucción de las Indias, ayer y hoy, Madrid, Marcial Pons 2002.

Ritu Menon & Kamla Bhasin, Borders & Boundaries. Women in India’ Partition, New Brownswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press 1998.

Astonishing expression from a complimentary letter, dated May 6, 2004, by a reader to Daho Djerbal, chief editor of Naqd, who brought it to my attention. The special issue N° 18 of that Algerian journal was dedicated to the Traumatic experience, and had a paper by Ranabir Samaddar titled “Morts, responsabilité et justice” in overture.

B. Ogilvie, ” Réflexions et interrogations sur le ‘voile islamique'”, manuscript August 2003, for debate at the workshop ” Penser le contemporain ” on June 12, 2004, Ecole normale supérieure, Paris.

Ranabir Samadddar (ed.), Peace Studies. An Introduction to the Concept, Scope, and Themes, South Asia Peace Studies: Volume 1, New Delhi, Sage Publications 2004.

R. Ivekovic, “From the Nation to Partition; Through Partition to the Nation; Readings / De la nation à la partition, par la partition à la nation” in Transeuropéennes 19/20, 2001; reprint as a book: Ghislaine Glasson Deschaumes & R. Ivekovic (eds.), Divided Countries, Separated Cities. The Modern Legacy of Partition, Delhi, OUP 2003; a longer version of the same paper by R. Ivekovic was published as “De la nation à la partition, par la partition à la nation” as Occasional Paper N° 18 by Europe and the Balkans Network, Longo Editore, Ravenna 2001.

In his paper on the Gujrat violences which reminds me stunningly of the Balkans and in particular of Serbia today (you could use the same text by just changing the names): Satish Deshpande, “Between jhatka and halal” in South Asian Himal March-April 2004.

R. Ivekovic, “De la traduction permanente (nous sommes en traduction) / On Permanent Translation (We are in Translation)”, in Transeuropéennes N°22, 2002, pp. 121-145; see R. Ivekovic keynote speech at the ” Internationale Graduiertenkonferenz an der Universität Wien “, ‘Postkoloniale’ Konflikte im europäischen Kontext (Vienna University) on April 15, 2004: “The Split of Reason and the Post-Colonial Backlash”, forthcoming with Turia & Kant; also see the post-doctoral interuniversity course “Feminist Critical Analysis: Boundaries, Borders and Borderlands”, paper by R. Ivekovic, “Transborder Translating” on May 24, 2004, forthcoming in a Croatian translation by the Centre for Women’s Studies, Zagreb.

Marie-Claire Caloz-Tschopp, Les étrangers aux frontières de l’Europe et le spectre des camps, Paris, La Dispute 2004.

Jean-François Lyotard, Le Différend, Minuit, Paris, 1983.

Language and “ready-made thought” offers this cliché of “both ends of the stick” which inadequately for our quest suggests a symmetrical and equal relationship. But the “mirror” is a better metaphor, since its “both sides” are far from equivalent in terms of existential stakes, as Luce Irigaray has demonstrated in Ce sexe qui n’en est pas un, Minuit, Paris 1977, and other writings.

Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), The Marginal Nation: Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal, Sage Publications 1999.

Veena Das, Critical Events. An Anthropological Perspective in Contemporary India, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1995.

See Jean-François Lyotard, L’Inhumain. Causeries sur le temps, Galilée, Paris, 1988.

Ivekovic, Le Sexe de la nation, Léo Scheer, Paris 2003.

I would like to thank Veena Das for having directed my mind back to this subject, which we have talked about informally over the years. See Veena Das, “Violence and Translation”, and “The practice of organ transplants: networks, documents, translations” in Margaret Lock, Alan Young, Alberto Cambrosio (eds.), Living and Working with the New Medical Technologies. Intersections of Inquiry, Cambridge University Press, pp. 263-287. The text published here is in part a reaction to her ideas and our discussions.

Nancy, L’Intrus, Paris, Galilée 2000; see also the movie 21 Grams, by Alejandro Gonzáles Inárritu, 2002, as well as Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola, 2003.

I am aware that a border is a concept related to the establishment of the modern state: that border is much harder. I have enlarged the concept here in order to investigate the limits of other types of borders which I see as different degrees of the same life-and-death process. Within the Western context, “life-and-death” (punar-bhava, punar mrtyu; samsara) are understood as merely “life”, whereby an additional hardening function of the concept of “border” is unnecessarily introduced. Any border is really ineffable.

Sanjay Chaturvedi, “The Excess of Geopolitics: Partition of ‘British India'”, in: S. Bianchini, S. Chaturvedi, R. Ivekovic, R. Samaddar, Partitions. Reshaping States and Minds, Frank Cass, (forthcoming 2005).

“Of entente, understanding and Verständnis”, The Economist, April 10th-16th 2004, p. 21.

“The contract of April 8, 1904, between England and France regarding the conflict over colonial matters, especially about Morocco, acquired the character of an anti-German coalition. By this agreement, France got a free hand over Morocco, and England over Egypt. By this agreement (Entente cordiale) the division of Africa became effective, and the Entente begins”. Enciklopedija Leksikografskog zavoda 1, Zagreb MCMLV, p. 167 (transl. by me).

I have tried to show elsewhere the role of gender in the construction of the nation, see note 14, and also I. Ivekovic, op. cit..

R. Esposito, Communitas. Origine e destino della communità, Torino, Einaudi 1998; Immunitas. Protezione e negazione della vita, Einaudi 2002; Alain Brossat, “Immunité, culture et politique” in Combat face au sida n° 35, mars 2004, pp. 28-31.