Reviews

This work by Sergei Seliverstov, a Professor at the Lev Gumilev University of Astana, is probably the most thorough book published on Eurasianism in Kazakhstan. The term ‘Eurasianism’ itself is very commonly used in Kazakhstan, in particular in political discourse and the media, though often not grounded in academic works, with the potential to engender a specific Kazakhstani concept of Eurasianism. The book therefore arrives at the right moment to remind Kazakhstani public of the long period of gestation that this idea has already gone through. The first part of the work is devoted to the genesis of Eurasianism among prominent Russian authors of the late nineteenth century like Nikolai Danilevskii, Konstantin Leont’ev, and Vladimir Lamanskii. (On Eurasianism in general, see Central Eurasian Reader 1 [2008], reviews No. 28, 32, 33, 58, 70, 73, 96, 99, 113, 118, 395, 399, 695, 735.) A special chapter is devoted to ‘classical’ Eurasianism which developed in the 1920s-30s among Russian émigrés. It is followed by an analysis of Lev Gumilev’s role in the reformulation of Eurasianist precepts. The author presents an original analysis of Gumilev’s Eurasianist premises within his family context, basing it on private documents bequeathed by Mrs Gumilev to the University of Astana. The last chapter focuses (political context oblige) on the reformulation of Eurasianism in present-day Kazakhstan. It also deals with the significance ascribed by President Nazarbaev to this term, which is considered a symbol of the country’s integration into post-Soviet space. The originality of the work, which stretches well beyond its Kazakhstani context, resides in the importance that the author ascribes to the Turkic sources of Eurasianism: the works by Ghasprali, Bukeikhan, and Chuqay are analysed in the framework of Turkic Eurasianism, as Potanin’s works on the Kazakh steppes. The author’s drawing of a parallel between Eurasianism and early-twentieth-century pan-Turkism opens interesting perspectives for thought, as does the stress that he puts on recalling the Kazakh genesis of one specific sort of Eurasianism.

Marlène Laruelle, John Hopkins University, Washington, DC
CER: II-2.1-69