Organized Panel Session
In the 1920s, Eurasianism, positing that Russia should be defined as neither Europe nor Asia but as Eurasia, provided a new identity for those who had lost their home country with the fall of the Russian Empire. The movement was initiated by a heterogeneous group of highly creative, recently traumatized Russian émigré linguists, ethnologists, geographers, and historians living in Prague, Vienna, Paris, Berlin, and other major European cities. Rejected and then repressed by both Communism and Fascism, supporters of Eurasianism had little room to maneuver in Europe. But further east there was fertile ground for their ideas: Eurasianism became central to the evolution of the geopolitically motivated, multi-ethnic ideologies of the Japanese Empire.
Key Eurasian texts were translated by Japanese intellectuals such as SHIMANO Saburo of the South Manchurian Railway Company Research Bureau. Eurasianism became an alternative ruling ideology in the Japanese puppet state of “Manchukuo.” The Japanese interpretation of Eurasianism not only challenged “European” convictions of racial supremacy and hegemony, but also provided a new interpretation of “Asian” identity and hence an ideological basis to integrate the multi-ethnic residents of occupied territories into the Japanese empire.
However, Russian Eurasianists regarded this political exploitation as a distortion. Also, Russian émigrés in Japanese-governed Manchuria needed the concept of “Eurasianism” to underpin their ambivalent identity as residents of a part of Asia from which they were possibly being deliberately excluded. There was a discrepancy over interpretation of Eurasianism. Thus, this paper explores Japan’s use of Eurasianism to promulgate Pan-Asianism in the 1920s and 1930s while Russian émigrés in “Manchukuo” utilized Eurasianism to resist the concept of Japanese Pan-Asianism.