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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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Varieties of Ethnic Interaction

Varieties of Ethnic Interaction

(p.60) 3 Varieties of Ethnic Interaction
The Gumilev Mystique

Mark Bassin

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses Gumilev's ideas about what he called “ethnic contacts,” in other words, the ways in which ethnies coexist and interact with one another. He described these patterns of interaction in terms of four categories: assimilation (assimiliatsiia), miscegenation or mixing (metisatsiia), fusion (sliianie), and symbiosis (simbios). Assimilation involves the absorption of one ethnos by another, in which process the memory of the assimilated group's origins, heritage, and traditions is entirely lost and it becomes a component part of the assimilator ethnos. Miscegenation between ethnies takes place when two groups with similar levels of passionarnosť encounter and engage with each other. The result is a composite group, a sort of amalgamated ethnos in which each part finds a way to keep alive its own particular ethnic memories and traditions. The third mode, sliianie or fusion occurs when the merging of groups is accompanied by the wholesale dissolution of their respective past ethnic identities. In symbiosis between two or more ethnic groups, the affected ethnies live side by side “in a single region” but each remains naturally ensconced in its original ecological niche. A symbiosis forms on the basis of a special empathy between the groups involved. Gumilev referred to this empathy with one of his most important neologisms: komplimentarnosť or “complementarity,” which can be either positive or negative.

Keywords:   Lev Nikolaevich Gumilev, ethnic contacts, ethnies, ethnic interaction, assimilation, mixing, misceganation, fusion, symbiosis

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