Reviews

In this article, Sergei Glebov, who is the author of a very interesting doctorate entitled The Challenge of the Modern: The Eurasianist Ideology and Movement, 1920-29 (State University of New Jersey, 2004), provides a very original analysis of Eurasianism.  His central idea is that, in Eurasianism, the borders of the empire are also the borders of the modern.  Accordingly, he demonstrates how the “Orientalising” complex Russia had transformed after wwi as a result of the critiques directed against European colonialism.  As the first thinker since 1920 to apply the colonialist framework to the Russian situation (in his Europe and Humanity [Evropa i chelovechestvo]), Troubetzkoy argued further for the need for decolonisation.  Indeed, for the Eurasiansists, decolonisation was not simply a political or economic matter; it was more importantly an identity issue: as S. Glebov stresses it, Eurasianism sees in western science, in particular in the evolution and the idea of stages of development, a mode of ideological control over non-western societies.  The author thus endeavours to retrace what he calls “the genealogy of areal thinking” through nineteenth-century Germanic ethnology, the theories of N. Danilevskii and K. Leont’ev in Russia, not to mention the debates about “civilisations” that formed around O. Spengler’s book.  As a matter of fact, the Eurasianists were only rarely interested in the border separating Eurasia and Asia:  The one that really counted was that separating Eurasia from Europe, since this border was, in their works, regarded not only as political but as epistemological.

Marlène Laruelle, Woodrow Wilson Centre, Washington, DC
CER: I-1.2.A-32