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The Gumilev MystiqueBiopolitics, Eurasianism, and the Construction of Community in Modern Russia$
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Mark Bassin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801445941

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801445941.001.0001

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Ethnogenesis, Passionarnost′, and the Biosphere

Ethnogenesis, Passionarnost′, and the Biosphere

(p.43) 2 Ethnogenesis, Passionarnost′, and the Biosphere
The Gumilev Mystique

Mark Bassin

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses Gumilev's theory of ethnogenesis. Generally speaking, ethnogenesis proceeded in the following manner. At certain historical moments, certain regions of the earth's surface were exposed to heightened levels of insolation of cosmic energy. If two natural conditions were present in these irradiated regions—a mix of different physical-geographical features or a “combination of landscapes” on the one hand and the presence of protoethnic “substrata” or groupings of individuals on the other—then the scene was set for the onset of ethnogenesis. Among a small number of the region's inhabitants, the radiation would have a mutagenetic effect, as a result of which they were capable of absorbing higher amounts of energy. These “mutants” (mutanty) became passionarii or passionary individuals. The fact of their shared mutagenetic experience, together with the new qualities that it created, combined to produce a subconscious but powerful attractive draw between them. Random passionary individuals quickly came together to form small clusters, which coalesced into ever-larger agglomerations, into which the passionarii brought their protoethnic cohorts. Invariably, this process involved movement and geographical dislocation for the groups involved. The demands of the new forms of communal existence with foreign peoples, together with the challenges of adapting to unfamiliar environmental conditions, led to the development of novel patterns of social and environmental interactions and laid the basis for a new behavioral stereotype. As the latter took shape, the subgroupings merged seamlessly into a single new ethnic unit.

Keywords:   Lev Nikolaevich Gumilev, ethnogenesis, passionarnosť, ethnos

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