Petr Nikolaevich Savitskii (1895 åÐ 1968) and the Invention of "Eurasia"

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation is the first biography of the Russian Ì©migrÌ© intellectual Petr Nikolaevich Savitskii, one of the founders and the main ideologist of the Eurasianist movement, a political movement that developed in the Russian emigration between 1921 and 1939. The movement considered the Russian revolution not the result of an unfortunate coincidence or even a malicious conspiracy, but rather the logical outcome of Russia’s historical development and the fatal consequence of the country’s Europeanization. They viewed the Bolshevik revolution as an elemental rebellion of the country’s popular masses against unwanted Europeanization. Although the Bolshevik regime explicitly confessed Marxism, a European and hence foreign ideology, the Eurasianists were convinced that Marxism would be replaced by another ideology better suited to Russia’s nature. The Eurasianists committed themselves precisely to the invention of such an ideology, based on Russian Orthodoxy and the distinctiveness of Russia. In their opinion, Russia belonged neither to Europe nor to Asia, but represented a separate world of its own – Eurasia. This dissertation makes ample use of all available archival materials relating to the life and work of P.N. Savitskii, in Russia, France, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and the United States. Its main sources basis consists of Savitskii’s voluminous personal archive in the State Archive of the Russian Federation in Moscow and in the Slavonic Library in Prague. The dissertation argues that Savitskii’s Eurasianism was not a stable ideology, but a dynamic set of ideas that went through a number of stages. In the early 1920s it began with an emotional, “utopian” anticipation of Eurasia’s religious mission as a reaction to the Russian revolution. By the end of the decade Savitskii tried to prove his earlier ideas “scientifically” and transformed his views into a coherent system. Whereas during the early 1930s Savitskii’s political ideas exhibited certain “liberal” traits, soon after the outbreak of the Second World War, he turned into an ardent supporter of the Stalinist Soviet Union.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07242009-175444

Author Martin Beisswenger
Advisor Gary M. Hamburg
Contributor Gary M. Hamburg, Committee Member
Contributor Alexander M. Martin, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline History
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2009-07-16

Submission Date 2009-07-24
  • United States of America

  • biography

  • revolution

  • European intellectual history

  • Russian history

  • religion

  • Russian emigration

  • Eurasianism

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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