Post-Imperial Agony or Pan-Continental Future? Classical Eurasianism as a Global Ideology in the Interwar Period


  • Lilia Boliachevets Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg



This article focuses on the Eurasianist movement which was frst developed in the 1920s among Russian emigrants in Sofia who began to rethink the results of the Russian Revolution. These young intellectuals aspired to create a ‘Third Way’ of state development which would be different from European liberalism as well as Soviet socialism. In their conceptions, Eurasianists underlined the uniqueness of ‘Eurasian’ culture and renounced Western European influences on the Russian Empire. They furthermore focused on the ‘National question’, discussing the challenge of the coexistence of many nationalities within the former Empire. This preoccupation makes the Eurasianist movement comparable to the Soviet project which also
aimed at appeasing nationalisms by establishing a federalized system. But unlike the Soviet project, Eurasianist ideas confined themselves to the boundaries of the former Russian Empire and Eurasianists generally remained invested in a highly imperialistic conception of the future ‘Eurasian state’. Despite formally proclaiming the equality of all Eurasian cultures and peoples, Eurasianists supported the idea of the political and cultural supremacy of Russia by pointing out that only the Russian culture could truly reconcile European and Asian ways of living. These imperialistic notions prevented Eurasianism from being adopted by more than a few representatives of the former imperial periphery, most importantly the Kalmyk doctor Erenzhen Khara Davan whose vision for the Eurasianist federal state stressed the need for cultural autonomy. Leading representatives of the Eurasianist movement were neither ready to make concessions to such initiatives of Khara Davan or Iakov Bromberg, a Jewish historian, nor to cooperate with the Japanese Pan-Asianist movement which on the other hand had incorporated Eurasianist ideas. The imperialistic nature and isolationism of the mainstream Eurasianist movement shows that it remained a product of a global imperial crisis and an expression of the post-imperial agony of exile intellectuals.

Author Biography

Lilia Boliachevets, Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg

Lilia Boliachevets works as a research assistant at the National Research University Higher School of Economics where she has received her bachelor degree. Her research interests include political emigration from Russia and the Soviet Union, and relations between the Soviet Union and post-colonial states. She has co-authored several papers on Soviet nationality policy, economic cooperation between the USSR and Latin America, and the politics of historiography in contemporary Russia.