Welcome to Northern Asia!
What to do with Russia? It would seem to make the whole concept
of Europe and Asia ridiculous.
John Clark (from an e-mail distributed in "Cenasia"
on 11th Sept, 1996).
You may be surprised why Russia is termed Northern Asia
on Green Pages. This name appeared partly by chance,
partly after reflections governed by whim.
During the summer of 1995, I was in correspondence with the
maintainers of City.Net. I pointed out to them that their server indexes
Russia only in Asia,
but does not include it in Europe despite the fact that a part of
Russia belongs to Europe: from the geographical point
of view the territory between the western Russian border
and the Ural mountains is considered to be in the eastern part of
the European continent. I thought that my argument is
convincing enough, but apparently the maintainers of City.Net
were not completely convinced and for a long time Russia was not
indexed in their
European index. In fact, the dispute whether
Russia is "part" of Europe or "Asia" has a long and gory
history and many Russian ideologists, journalists
and humanitarian scientists harassed by the statement that
Russia is not part of Europe have struck back by referring to great
Russian names and the cultural heritage of the country.
Let's step aside from that trampled down path of useless dispute.
Take a globe or a physical map of the World and look first
at the western coast of Asia, the Middle East,
then glance at Central Asian states
and finally turn your eyes to the dynamic South Asian region.
You will notice immediately that the northern part of Asia
is occupied by Russia. It's so simple. Those who like arguments may
enjoy the following thoughts suggested by this matter-of-fact
Since the eighteenth century Russia was attracted by the spaciousness
of Asia. Russian explorers, merchants and warriors dreamt about
new Asian territories. Now, the Siberian cities of
closer to the geographical center of Russia than Moscow and
An association of Russia with Northern Asia assumes that it and
countries located in Southern Asia could establish more close
economic and trade cooperation, in the perspective, - a large free trade
zone similar to a free trade zone being developed between Northern
and Southern Americas.
Will the estimation of Russian cultural heritage change
if one accepts the simple geographical metaphor suggested above?
Obviously not. The icons of the lucid fifteenth century painter
Andrei Rublev will not become less spiritual and conciliatory,
the novels of Dostoevsky and plays of Chekhov will not lose readers,
the music of Chaikovski and Rakhmaninov will remain beautiful, the
haunting images of Tarkovski's films will continue to attract
new spectators, and the movies "King Lear"
and "Hamlet" directed by Kozintsev will still be regarded
by scholars of Shakespeare as some of the best screen versions
ever made. Real cultural and humanitarian values cannot be
affected by classifications or schemas whatever they are.
So, you may ask why bother at all? Just because many
Russian intellectuals felt that there is a gap between Russia
and Europe, and many sensitive visitors and scholars were
surprised by differences in life-styles.
On the other hand, what will change if one agrees follow
the dogma that Russia is an European country? The weather will not
become more mild, bureaucrats - less corrupt,
politics - less Byzantine, the intelligentsia - less gloomy,
all people - less spoiled by contemplation, life - less tough,
and the environment - less polluted.
Asia was a source of three main world religions: Buddhism, Christianity
and Islam. Asia was the home of several sophisticated ancient
societies and cultures. Many countries located in Asia can proudly
derive their traditions from that cultural heritage. Furthermore,
if European countries do not mind against the American mass-culture
influence, Russia may be even more comfortable with penetration
of Arabic, Chinese, Indian and Japanese traditions into everyday
life. Some of them (e.g., Indian culture) have already roots in
The prolongated turmoil in the Russian economy and society prevents
having a clear and simple view on the country. But the country for a
long time needs a simple and generative metaphor that will help
to understood its role in the modern world.
Questions where is the eastern border of Europe and
arguments for and against the name Northern Asia for Russia
may go on forever. Let's stop here.
pictures from Northern Asia!
On the top of this page you see an excerpt from Aleksandr Blok's
poem "Skify" and the epigraph to that poem from V.Solovyov's verse. A.Blok
wrote the poem on January 30, 1918; it was published in "Znamya truda"
on February 20 (7), 1918. The poem is included in many collections of
An excerpt from
John Clark's e-mail message was copied from the
int-boundaries Mailbase, UK's major electronic mailing list
service for research in Higher Education based in the University Computing Service at the University of Newcastle (UK).
Mikhail Soutchanski, March 14, 1997.
If you are looking for additional textual information,
you can return back to
Impressions of Russia and the Former USSR.
If you would like to see more pictures, please go to:
<Petersburg and the North-West
of Russia> <Ural>
<South of Russia>
<Far East of Russia>