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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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The Ethnogenetic Drama of Russian History

The Ethnogenetic Drama of Russian History

(p.81) 4 The Ethnogenetic Drama of Russian History
The Gumilev Mystique

Mark Bassin

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses Gumilev's views on Russian history. Gumilev's work on ancient and medieval history is where he made the fullest attempt to illustrate the operations and implications of his ethnogenetic theories. Although his historical research was dismissed by more orthodox academic colleagues as “fantasy” or, more generously, as “poetry,” it did help lay the foundation for the yet more wanton post-Soviet manipulation of the historical past in the form of so-called alternative history. But however fanciful, his historical accounts vividly brought to life the “scientific” principles of his ethnogenetic theories, above all the juxtaposition between the contending dynamics of positive and negative complementarity—between symbioses and antisystemic chimeras. In the final analysis, his entire reconstruction of Russian history was based on this simple opposition and represented a chronicle of Manichean confrontation between druzia i nedrugi (friends and enemies)—the forces of good and evil.

Keywords:   Lev Nikolaevich Gumilev, Russia, Russian history, ethnogentic theory, Manichean confrontation, symbiosese, antisystemic chimera, alternative history

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