Self-Strengthening and Nation-Building in the Eurasian World: Transnational Dynamics of Japan, Germany, and Russia


  • Joseph Beaden Oxford University



A shorter historiographical essay, examining the ways ‘space’ might be employed as an analytical category for the study of the nineteenth century. Japan, Germany, and Russia are often seen as latecomers to the modern world (if they arrived at all), and as a consequence are labelled passive recipients of an essentially Atlantic modernity. ‘Eurasia’ as a spatial category has been discarded, as our understanding of space focuses overwhelmingly on connectivity and exchange over conflict and consciousness. This essay argues that, in the realms of economic self-strengthening and the construction of national identities, these polities represent a common ‘Eurasian’ modernity, distinct from Western and colonial forms. The argument roots itself in the novel concept of ‘cognitive space’: space defined not by connectivity, but by coincidences of cognition stemming from common circumstance.