Nurture Is Nature: Lev Gumilev and the Ecology of Ethnicity

Mark Bassin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, Mark Bassin explores Lev Gumilev's theory of ethnicity. Developing his ideas in the context of post-Stalinist debates about the relationship of society to the natural world, Gumilev maintained that the etnos was a wholly natural, quasi-biological entity. Although this naturalism involved an important genetic dimension, Gumilev denied that ethnicity was determined by race and emphasized instead its ecological quality as an organic part of biogeocenoses or natural-landscape ecosystems. Although he remained marginalized in his day by the Soviet ethnographic establishment, his essentialist perspective is powerfully appealing for post-Soviet audiences, who find his "ecology of ethnicity" singularly useful for the purposes of ethnopolitical discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-+
JournalSlavic Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


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