Postcolonial Central Europe? Cover Image

Postkoloniální střední Evropa?
Postcolonial Central Europe?

Kundera’s ‘Kidnapped West’ in the Mirror of Postcolonial Critique

Author(s): Ondřej Slačálek
Subject(s): Political Sciences, Czech Literature
Published by: Univerzita Karlova v Praze - Filozofická fakulta, Vydavatelství
Keywords: Post-Colonialism; Post-Socialism; World-System Analysis; Central Europe; Milan Kundera; Maria Todorova; Ewa Tompson; Madina Tlostanova; Agnes Gagyi

Summary/Abstract: This article has a twofold aim: 1) to introduce four theoreticians who transfer concepts of postcolonial theory to the analysis of post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe; 2) to apply these concepts to the interpretative dialogue of Milan Kundera’s essay *e Tragedy of Central Europe (1983). Te article thus presents the main concepts of the Bulgarian historian Maria Todorova (Balkanism and its similarities with and diferences to Orientalism), American-Polish literary historian and Slavicist Ewa Tompson (surrogate hegemon, Sarmatism), Russian cultural theorist Madina Tlostanova (speaking from colonial wounds), and Hungarian sociologist Agnes Gagyi. In particular, the presentation of Todorova and Tompson is complemented by the presentation of the debates caused by their work (Diana Mishkova and Rastko Močnik in Todorova’s case, Stanley Bill, Jan Sowa, Claudia SnochowskaGonzalez in Thompson’s case) and conceptual alternatives (Maria Janion). The concepts of these authors are used to demonstrate how Kundera’s essay is based on his ignorance of both non-European world and European internal peripheries, how it homogenizes Central European experiences, how it replaces politics by culture, and how it contributes to conservative identitarian positions which are not shared by Kundera in his other writings. In conclusion, the article discusses the mutual ignorance of Central European discourse and postcolonial discourse, and the possibilities of dialogue. On the meta-level the article also poses the question of how dialogue between theories of literature and political theory can enrich both participants.

  • Issue Year: 17/2020
  • Issue No: 34
  • Page Range: 105-130
  • Page Count: 26
  • Language: Czech