Slavs and Tatars: Not Moscow Not Mecca

Slavs and Tatars, Norman O. Brown, Franz Thalmair, 2012
softcover

Publisher: Secession, Wein, Germany

ISBN: 9783868952193

Dimensions: 230 x 310 mm

Pages: 108 pages

“Few people dare mention Marx and Mohammed in the same breath. For, what on earth (or in heaven, with or sans the 72 houris) could an atheistic economic and political philosophy have to do with a religion dedicated to the worship of the one and unique God? Does the former not continue to be the darling of leftists, who (like philandering partners, unwilling to make a clean break) keep coming back for one last chance, only to prolong the pain of all parties – while the latter takes pride in its traditionalist, some would say reactionary positions on a range of issues? Rare are the legs, but rarer yet are the heart and mind that can do splits. It is precisely such mental and mystical acrobatics that sweep us as Slavs and Tatars, not to mention Khazars, Bashkirs, Karakalpaks, and Uighurs, off our feet. […]’

Between the twin towers of communism and Islam lies a region alternatively called Ma wâra al nahr, Transoxiana, Greater Khorasan, Turkestan, or simply Central Asia. Like us, it too belongs to too many peoples and places at once, caught between Imperial Russia and Statist China, Chinggisid and Sharia laws, sedentary and nomadic tribes, Turkic, Persian, and Russian languages – not to mention Arabic, Latin, and Cyrillic alphabets. As Maria Elisabeth Louw writes, ‘[t]he stubborn enchantedness of the world is perhaps most telling in the parts of the world where the concrete efforts to disenchant it were extraordinarily organized and profound.’ We turn to this ‘country beyond the river’ (Amu Darya, aka the Oxus) in an effort to research the potential for progressive agency in Islam. In a land considered historically instrumental in the development of the faith, but nonetheless marginalized in our oft-amnesiac era, its approach to pedagogy, to the sacred, and to modernity itself offers a much-needed model of critical thinking and commensurate being.”

Excerpt from the publication