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Eurasia and Eurasianisms: Concepts and Contentions


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Russian and Eurasian Studies
Knowledge of Russian language.


Eurasia as a concept - and even as a geographical boundary - is contested and controversial. Definitions range from the whole of the connected European and Asian landmasses to the post-Soviet states to narrower views of the historical steppe, a nominal ‘heartland’ within the continents. Even more problematic is the idea of ‘Eurasianism’: can the history, politics, or societies of Eurasia, however understood, be folded into a coherent theory of regional development or regional civilisation? If so, what form or vision should these theories take?

Such questions of definition and conception matter, however, for both academic and political reasons. Academically, programmes such as ours are built around the study of ‘Eurasia’, largely understood as the post-Soviet world outside of Europe. Politically, ideas about ‘Eurasia’ and the proper form of ‘Euranianism’ as an ethos underpin ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and elsewhere, as literal battles are waged over the degree to which the region can or cannot be subsumed under a unified conception of territory, history, and heritage.

As a core course in the MA in Russian and Eurasian Studies, this seminar interrogates and complicates the basic ideas of Eurasia and Eurasianism, from the territorial landmass they represent to the controversial political frameworks they have generated. In the first half of the course, students are provided with a variety of disciplinary perspectives with which to tackle these concepts, including the historical development of Eurasia and Eurasianism, the current political discourse around Eurasianism, the international relations of Eurasia, the economics of the region, Eurasian cultural production, and the linguistic and socio-linguistic situation and developments across modern Eurasia. During the second half of the course, moreover, students engage with a series of detailed case studies demonstrating the importance of ‘Eurasia’ and ‘Eurasianism’ in different socio-political and geographic contexts. This broad perspective provides a base for students to approach the region, both in this class and throughout the MA in Russian and Eurasian Studies programme, and gives the students the tools to approach the multidisciplinary research paper that they are asked to write in the course of the seminar.

Course objectives

Having completed this course, students will:

  • Demonstrate a comprehension and understanding of the contested nature of ‘Eurasia’ and ‘Eurasianism’;

  • Be able to analyse these concepts’ relation to modern international and domestic politics in Russia and the former USSR;

  • Have the capacity to evaluate ‘Eurasia’ and ‘Eurasianism’ from a variety of disciplinary perspectives;

  • Design and write a multidisciplinary research paper applying at least two (2) of the disciplinary perspectives presented in the course.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and Seminar

Assessment method

The course is marked according to the following weighted scale:

  • Attendance and participation in seminar discussions (10%)

  • Research Proposal (20%)

  • Multidisciplinary Comparison Assignment (20%)

  • Multidisciplinary Research Paper (50%)

The research paper is the final product of this course and builds upon the previous assignments in the class. It must include at least two different disciplinary methodologies and is graded on 1) clarity of argument; 2) methodological rigour; 3) basis in the course literature and sources; and 4) formatting, structure, and writing; all weighted equally. More detail about the paper and the course assignmnets in general is available in the course syllabus.

If the mark for the final paper and the final weighted course grade are both unsatisfactory (i.e., below 5.5), then the final paper may be improved and resubmitted for a second review as a ‘resit’.

Reading list

The basic course text for this class is Mark Bassin, Sergey Glebov, and Marlene Laruelle, eds., Between Europe and Asia: The Origins, Theories, and Legacies of Russian Eurasianism (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). This book can be found in electronic format in the Leiden University Library:

Additional materials, incuding primary texts and academic literature, will be assigned in the course syllabus for each seminar meeting.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvenplaats, (