The Zone of Transition has moved to Maidan Square
“When telling the history of post-communism we need to start at the end. By doing so we will spare ourselves many an illusion, such as the suggestion that post-communism is a historical transition period that starts at a certain point in time and ends at another, thereby having served its purpose,” says Austrian philosopher Boris Buden at the beginning of his book Zone of Transition, published in 2009. Referring to Kant’s concept of “education for maturity and responsibility”, Buden analyses the post-communist West-East relations, identifies their cynical and controlling nature and pinpoints a teleology on “admittance into the global capitalistic system of Western liberal democracy” in the political transformation processes. Since the late 1980s the “concept of transition has almost exclusively been applied to the so-called post-communist societies and refers to their transition to democracy, which started with the political upheavals of 1989/1990 and continues, particularly in Eastern Europe, to varying degrees of success.”
When the translator and editor Nelia Vakhovska applied for the Paul Celan Fellowship for Translators with Buden’s analysis in May 2013, she did so with the situation in Ukraine in mind and hoped her translation could “give new impetus to discussions on democracy, nation(alism) and religion.” At that time it was not yet clear just how quickly the occupied Maidan Square would become a zone of transition – indeed, an embattled position of the opposition against a government that responded with violence.
Vakhovska’s translation of Zone of Transition from German into Ukrainian has now been published by Prostory magazine’s recently initiated publishing project as part of the socio-critical Meduza series and immediately entered the top ten of the Bukvoid portal’s independent ranking of philosophy and nonfiction books – and this in a country that, as Vakhovska puts it, practically gets by without literary criticism.
Paul Celan Fellowships for Translators is a joint programme organised by the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) and ERSTE Foundation, providing translations of key works in the field of humanities and social sciences into the languages of the Central and South Eastern European region.