How little do we know about the world. On several occasions, I used the term “ślepota świata”, world blindness, to describe a particular characteristic of Polish mentality, ignoring the world, or better to say, living in a simplified geography dominated by a handful of former and present empires: the United States, Germany, France, metropolitan Russia. But blind, so totally blind to all the diversity stretching eastwards, all those peoples and histories that run parallel to our own.
I do believe I spotted the name Dagestan for the first time when I was a university professor already. I suppose it is unthinkable not to have seen it before, but in any case, I never paid attention, never asked myself what Dagestan might be. Be that as it may, the first time of which I am aware was on a page of Ewa Thompson's Imperial Knowledge, recounting how the Dagestani narration (about the revolt of soldiers condemned to life-threatening service that implied perusal of nuclear materials) only reached the American readers transmitted and distorted by the Russian filter.
I also remember the second time that I spotted the name Dagestan. It was in the novel Ali und Nino, published under the mysterious pseudonym Kurban Said. Dagestan was a place of exile where Ali was supposed to stay after he had killed someone. A non-place, an empty space in the middle of nothing, even if compared to relative extent and glamour of the Caucasian metropolises. Dagestan?
Nonetheless, my Polish world blindness is not so very different from a world blindness anywhere else. Who cares about Dagestan? Who knows where it is?
Probably I would never know if it were not for the project of this website, where I decided to collect all countries and territories of the world, all the places where I travelled, and those about which I merely read in books, places I merely saw on movies, heard in songs and music. And even more importantly, to make this collection complete with all those place from where, apparently, nothing came to me, places corresponding to no book, no image, no sound whatsoever. Until I deliberately searched for those things.