May 2016

Who is the Barbarian? From the ancient Greeks perspective: the multilingual, unmanly Persians. From the Romans perspective: the Nordic and Germanic peoples invading the Roman Empire. From the post 9/11 north-american perspective: the fundamentalist terrorists threatening ‹our universal› values. Who is the Barbarian? rt#three: BARBARIANS WANTED assembles contributions that deal with the figure of the barbarian, which is threatening ‹western› values. The barbarian is obviously always the other. Cultural production and artistic practices have the ability to play with these valuations and categorizations.

Let’s read the words of the greek poet Cavafy dedicated to that theme:

Waiting for the Barbarians

by Constantine P. Cafavy, 1904
translated by George Barbanis

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are to arrive today.[…]
Why have our two consuls and the praetors come out
today in their red, embroidered togas;
why do they wear amethyst-studded bracelets,
and rings with brilliant, glittering emeralds;
why are they carrying costly canes today,
wonderfully carved with silver and gold?
Because the barbarians are to arrive today,
and such things dazzle the barbarians.
Why don’t the worthy orators come as always
to make their speeches, to have their say?

Because the barbarians are to arrive today;
and they get bored with eloquence and orations.
Why all of a sudden this unrestand confusion.
(How solemn the faces have become).
Why are the streets and squares clearing quickly,
and all return to their homes, so deep in thought?
Because night is here but the barbarians have not come.
And some people arrived from the borders,
and said that there are no longer any barbarians.
And now what shall become of us without any barbarians?
Those people were some kind of solution.