It is hard to imagine that we share the journey with someone coming in the opposite direction. Nevertheless, I think that this strange sharing is perhaps what best characterises our time. Coming from very different trajectories and histories, from the accumulation of multi-secular defeats or victories, different cultural (philosophical, aesthetic, political, ontological, epistemological and ethical) universes seem today more exposed than ever to the presence of and competition with rival universes in conditions that do not allow unilateral movements, be they of assimilation or of conquest. The inequalities of power among them exist and are historically sedimented, but they are increasingly relative and unequally distributed among the different areas of collective life or the different regions of the world. The opposite trajectories converge in a field of maximum uncertainty that produces restlessness and instability. The sharing of uncertainty is bound to result in the uncertainty of sharing. 

The Eurocentric Western cultural universe comes from a long trajectory of historical victories that seems to have come to an end. Europe spent five centuries dominating and teaching the non-European world and finds itself today increasingly in the condition of no longer being able to dominate nor having anything to teach. The drama of the cultural universe that considers itself historically victorious is that it does not want to learn from the cultural universes it has become accustomed to defeat and to teach. In turn, the non-Western cultural universes, be they Eastern (Chinese or Indian), Islamic, African and indigenous or first nations people of the Americas and Oceania, come from trajectories of historical defeats by the Western universe, defeats which, however, varied greatly in time and extent. They have gone through different processes of destruction, disfiguration, acculturation (or more accurately, inculturation or deculturation), but they have survived and today they take on a new confidence, self-esteem, and forward-looking stance from which stems the perception that the defeat is over. What kind of sharing can be expected from these trajectories progressing in opposite direction? Are they meeting and converging in some way or are they missing the possibility of the encounter and heading for confrontations of unknown contours?  

Mismatches and conflicts can be as potentially destructive as encounters and convergences can be potentially and mutually enriching. The deep uncertainty this creates stems from four epochal conditions: interregnum, interruption, transmigration, reflexivity. Drawing upon the thought of the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci, the term interregnum is a temporal metaphor that points to an ambiguous temporality in which the new society is not yet fully born and the old one has not yet definitively died. It is a time of monsters. The unstable oscillation between strengthening the new and rescuing the old is characteristic of the interregnum. Interruption is a spatial metaphor that suggests the insertion of a rupture or break in the established order that provokes a suspension, be it political, legal or philosophical. Such suspension can be more or less vast and more or less lasting. It is a time of crossroads. Transmigration is a metaphor of an outward-looking movement that evokes the transitoriness of social relations, of contrasts, of identities and of the constant disturbance of linear movements. It is a time of transculturation, to use a concept developed by the Cuban sociologist Fernando Ortiz. Finally, deep reflexivity is a metaphor for an inward-looking movement that involves revisiting and revising history. It is a time of roots turning into options and of options turning into roots.

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