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Book Talk: Post-Imperial Possibilities: Eurasia, Eurafrica, Afroasia

Tuesday, February 27, 2024
12pm to 1pm PT

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History Corner, Room 307
450 Jane Stanford Way Bldg 200, Stanford, CA 94305
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After the dissolution of empires, was the nation-state the only way to unite people politically, culturally, and economically? In Post-Imperial Possibilities, historians Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper examine three large-scale, transcontinental projects aimed at bringing together peoples of different regions to mitigate imperial legacies of inequality. Eurasia, Eurafrica, and Afroasia—in theory if not in practice—offered alternative routes out of empire. The theory of Eurasianism was developed after the collapse of imperial Russia by exiled intellectuals alienated by both Western imperialism and communism. Eurafrica began as a design for collaborative European exploitation of Africa but was transformed in the 1940s and 1950s into a project to include France’s African territories in plans for European integration. The Afroasian movement wanted to replace the vertical relationship of colonizer and colonized with a horizontal relationship among former colonial territories that could challenge both the communist and capitalist worlds. Both Eurafrica and Afroasia floundered, victims of old and new vested interests. But Eurasia revived in the 1990s, when Russian intellectuals turned the theory’s attack on Western hegemony into a recipe for the restoration of Russian imperial power. While both the system of purportedly sovereign states and the concentrated might of large economic and political institutions continue to frustrate projects to overcome inequities in welfare and power, Burbank and Cooper’s study of political imagination explores wide-ranging concepts of social affiliation and obligation that emerged after empire and the reasons for their unlike destinies.

Jane Burbank is Professor Emerita of History and Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University. She is the author of Intelligentsia and Revolution and Russian Peasants Go to Court.

Frederick Cooper is Professor Emeritus of History at New York University. He is the author of Citizenship between Empire and Nation, Africa since 1940, and Citizenship, Inequality, and Difference. Burbank and Cooper are coauthors of Empires in World History (Princeton).

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