The article examines the ideas and arrangements referred to as nonterritorial autonomy (NTA) in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the post-Soviet states. Many scholars regard NTA as a theoretical breakthrough and as a way to drastically rearrange diversity policies. The author seeks to clarify whether NTA had been a groundbreaking innovation and an area of political contestations. Two short periods of NTA-related initiatives after 1917 and in the late 1980s–1990s may look like attempts (albeit ineffective) to replace the earlier forms of diversity governance. The author shows that the ideas of group societal separateness, differential treatment of individuals, group agency, and cohesiveness, as well as a group’s running of its internal affairs, were present in varying degrees in imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet governments’ thoughts and practices. Academia and civil society were also appropriating and developing these views, and group self-rule on a nonterritorial basis was their logical extension. However, the practical implementation was, in most cases, on a top-down basis, and group agency and self-rule were affirmed mostly rhetorically. The continuity of discourses and practices demonstrates that NTA was an integral part of “normal” and broad ethnopolitical developments across the major historic divides in Northern Eurasia.