Reviews

In this article, Mark Bassin, to whom we already owe Imperial Visions: Nationalist Imagination and Geographical Expansion in the Russian Far East, 1840-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), contends that important aspects of 1920s-1930s Eurasianist thinking were influenced by elements of west European thinking.  Using the writings of ethnographer and philologist N. S. Troubetzskoy, he demonstrates that the Eurasianist project can be comprehended in terms of a discourse which was actually quite foreign to Russian national tradition: it came to be fully articulated only in the aftermath of wwi, since the very ideology Troubetzskoy referred to was rather one of decolonisation and national self-determination.  Thus, the leading themes of the immediate post-war world were directed as much to the colonial realms of the defeated powers as to their European motherlands.  Eurasianism sought to endorse these new nationalist aspirations breaking out across the territories of the former Tsarist Empire, but it tried to subordinate them to the legitimacy of a greater “Eurasian” entity.  However, in order to be recognised, this greater entity had itself to be authenticated as a single, homogeneous, and voluntaristic community, i.e. a nation.  Mark Bassin succeeds here in analysing with finesse one of the major paradoxes of Eurasianist theories, which, like all nationalisms, are at once imitative of and strive to compete against their western model/counter-model.

Marlène Laruelle, Woodrow Wilson Centre, Washington, DC
CER: I-1.2.A-28