When the ancients defined the border between Europe and Asia, the terms had little other meaning than “this side of Greece” and “that side of Greece.” Over the millennia, that border has stayed roughly in the same place, but the identities of the continents have taken on rich and enduring cultural and political meanings. And while this line was drawn arbitrarily, somehow it has happened that the countries where it passes today are the sites of some of today's most profound debates over civilizational identity.
Turkey is wrestling with the legacy of the forced Westernization of Ataturk, its snubs by the EU, and a confident, rising Muslim middle class. Georgia is trying to break free of its history of Russian control by asserting a European identity and aspirations to join the EU and NATO. Kazakhstan has developed an ambitious nation-building program around a “Eurasian” identity, as it tries to associate itself with both the prestige of Europe and the dynamism of Asia. And Russia has forcefully revived its age-old debate about where it really belongs vis-a-vis Europe.
In this project, Joshua Kucera explores the border between Europe and Asia and how it got to be where it is, while examining the cultural and political meanings of "West" and "East" through the eyes of the people who live where they meet.