Lev Gumilev vs Samuel Huntington: A Soviet Theory of the ‘Clash of Civilizations'?

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES) Gamla torget 3, 3rd floor, IRES Library
  • Website
  • Organiser: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES)
  • Contact person: Jevgenija Gehsbarga
  • Phone: 018 471 1630
  • Föreläsning

The seminar will compare two different “civilizational theories”:
"clash of civilizations" idea promoted by the Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington with the theory of “superethnos” proposed by the Soviet historian, ethnographer and geographer Lev Gumilev.

The controversial “Clash of Civilizations” theory of the Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington helped stimulate a revival of interest in the importance of civilizations in human history and social organization. The seminar will be based on a paper comparing Huntington’s ideas to those of the Soviet historian, ethnographer and geographer Lev Gumilev.  From the 1960s through the 1980s, Gumilev developed a theory of “superethnos” which, like Huntington, drew heavily on Spengler’s cyclical model of the emergence, flourishing and ultimate decline of civilizations. The paper focuses specifically on the different ways in which Huntington and Gumilev politicized their civilizational discourses and used them instrumentally, in order to articulate their perspectives and positions regarding national and global politics in the present day. 

Mark Bassin is Baltic Sea Professor in the Center for Baltic and East European Studies at Södertörn University, Visiting Professor of Eurasian Studies at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University, and an Associate Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. His academic background is in the history of ideology, political geography and geopolitics, with a regional focus on Russia-Eurasia and Central Europe. Professor Bassin’s areas of expertise include history of Russia, Germany, Russian Eurasianism, history and ideology of geopolitics, space and identity discourses.