Lev Gumilev, ethnogenesis and Eurasianism
The thesis examines two central themes in the thought of L.N. Gumilev (1912- 92): the theory of ethnogenesis and Eurasianism. A biographic survey of Gumilev's life sets his work in a historical context. Gumilev's background, his personal interests in nomadic history, and the tragic experiences of his life emerge as important factors for understanding his thought. The three principal concepts of the theory of ethnogenesis are then examined; passionarnost', ethnos, and phases of ethnogenesis. It is argued that the theory of ethnogenesis at its core is a behaviourist concept of ethnic history. A comparison with the theories of history of Arnold Toynbee and N.Ia. Danilevskii shows that despite similarities such as a shared anti cosmopolitan view of history, there are also important differences. In particular, the distinction between social and ethnic history and the emphasis on behavioural, long-term changes distinguish Gumilev's theory from those of Toynbee and Danilevskii. Gumilev's account of Russian history focused on a distinction between Kievan Rus and Muscovite Russia, the role of the Mongols in the formation of the Russian ethnos, and the interpretation of Russian history in terms of phases of ethnogenesis. His views are dominated by a strong anti-Western bias and are not always compatible with the theory of ethnogenesis. Finally, there is a crucial distinction between Eurasianism and the theory of ethnogenesis. In his works on Russian history, Gumilev developed various aspects of Eurasianism. The theory of ethnogenesis is, however, a radical departure from Eurasian views. It should be seen as a separate theory which stresses non-voluntaristic, behaviourist motives in ethnic history.