A MANIFESTO, 

or why bother about Eastern Europe? 

 
 

Dear reader,

Ever since the fall of the Berliner Mauer, a fair amount of Eastern European nations has been formally greeted into the more prosperous & privileged family known as the ‘European Union.’ Despite that their Western counterparts have (slowly, yet steadily) come to acquire—along with a mystifying cloak of noxious preconceptions—some generalised ideas about Eastern Europe, proportionately few specks of knowledge have been disseminated vis-à-vis its art, culture, society, & politics. Moving beyond mere utterances of discontent or embittered reflections, our journal aims to tackle (some of) the inconsistencies that govern over this part of Europe.

Undeterred by its constant position as l’autre in the world order paradigm, Eastern Europe is more than just itinerant gloom, more than a sheer pile of debris hanging around & awaiting reconstruction. Especially in the current turbulent socio-political climate that has led to an upsurge of xenophobia, bigotry, & ultranationalism, the mere act of getting together—of maintaining a state of togetherness regardless of ethnic, racial, cultural, social, class differences—needs to be more critically investigated. The moment of this publication, therefore, points toward historical contingencies, as the atomisation of individuals into egoistic & parsimonious globules of greed, into disengaged, demoralised, socially powerless beads, & into aphasic post-socialist subjects without a clear sense of direction, has led to a palpable undermining of Eastern European communities.

Getting together represents, after all, the ultimate habit of humanity. Yet, in the midst of increasingly  alienating & divisive times, seeking (& finding) one’s sense of belonging has come to seem remotely beyond the bounds of possibility. Focusing on the collective rather than the individual, we believe that vulnerability takes root in isolation, whereas true power lies in togetherness. We believe that alone we are weak and that only together we can become strong. Concentrating the scope of interest onto the past, present, & future of communities inside Eastern Europe, you can find what lies at the heart of our first issue: a rejuvenation of the contemporary imaginations of what the notion of community used to mean, currently means, & will continue to mean.

Born in Titan, a (former?) working class neighbourhood of Bucharest, KAJET Journal emanated out of an urgent need to provide a platform for Eastern European narratives. Aiming to become a timeless archival document, KAJET gets its name from the Easternised version of the French cahier, meaning notebook. It embodies the ethos of KAJET: a textual & visual collection of thoughts, an assemblage of neglected narratives, a self-expanding string of reflections & perspectives, a perpetual work in progress of a history that keeps re-writing itself; essentially, a journal of Eastern European encounters. With KAJET bearing the piercing & onerous legacy of samizdat endeavours of this region’s past, the project hopes to become an alternative medium where artists & academics can actively co-exist & thrive (not in the least in imagination & in writing, but hopefully more than that).

Through a textual & visual composite, we seek to move beyond a purely anecdotal understanding of Eastern Europe, as we aim to reverse mentalities, challenge stereotypes, & shift perspectives. Dealing with (re)articulations of the intellectual, artistic, & cultural, KAJET also challenges the current distribution of printed material within Europe—fundamentally, we aim to counterbalance & expand an overly Western-oriented field toward the Eastern end of the spectrum.

In its perpetual quest for self-determination, we believe that Eastern Europe shall neither ignore nor reject its very own characteristics: a simmering cauldron, a melting pot, a fusing constellation with its own power struggles, a world led through inner social dynamics vitiated by congenital corruption, as well as stubborn memories that refuse to fade away. Instead, as Eastern Europeans ourselves, we attempt to dismantle the aura of mythical irrationality that obscures the popular belief, together with the region’s counterfeit sense of inferiority against the powerful, the prosperous, & the advanced. Should that happen, this publication will have achieved its purpose.

Yours,

 

L.N. & P.M. 


ϟ The ethos of KAJET is to bring unexplored and/or neglected Eastern European narratives to an English-speaking audience.

ϟ Matching our ambition to converge scholarly interests with artistic practices, KAJET provides a platform for academics to co-exist with artists, where intricate processes of acquiring (and redistributing) collective knowledge are stimulated to take place.

ϟ Whilst approaching scholarly interests with an informal overtone, KAJET follows an interdisciplinary approach. As a platform where academia and art are equally embraced, we are foremost concerned with reversing mentalities, challenging stereotypes, shifting perspectives, and documenting lived experiences.

ϟ Quintessentially, KAJET becomes an alternative space where Eastern encounters are brought to the fore for the steady reader and, equally, for the culturally inquisitive flâneur and flâneuse.

ϟ Despite its Eastern-focused subject matter, KAJET is not an attempt to de-Westernise academic practices or to reorient the gaze toward Eastern art and narratives, but, rather, to create a viable and auspicious bridge between Eastern and Western lifeworlds.

ϟ Concentrating our scope of interest onto the past, present, future of Eastern Europe, KAJET aims to document the life of cultural outsiders and to provide them with a sharp means of expression.

ϟ We believe in the archival & tangible quality of our publication. KAJET aspires to provide its readers with timeless pieces with an enhanced print value. Following the etymological trail of the word magazine (from the Arabic makhazan meaning storehouse, repository, depot), KAJET embodies a collection, a vault of archival documents.

ϟ Not being afraid to tackle apparently trivial matters, we consider that every socio-cultural development in the East shall be taken seriously. Everything needs to be questioned, doubted, and reinterpreted accordingly.