The Khazar Khaganate in the Works of M. I. Artamonov and L. N. Gumilev


RACYN Michal

Year of publication 2022
Type Conference abstract
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description This paper deals with the reception of M. I. Artamonov's (1898–1972) and L. N. Gumilev's (1912–1992) works focused on the history of Khazar Khaganate in the context of Soviet historiography. The Paper is based on the research of primary literature published by Gumilev and Artmanov mainly in the second half of the 20th century. The main aim of the study is to analyze and reflect their findings in the broader context of the Soviet academic censorship practices and the intellectual milieu of Russian nationalists. In the context of soviet historiography history of Khazar Khaganate represents a highly contradictory topic. During the 20th century, academic view on the subject was repeatedly altered by the official regime, which led to significant discourse transformation. In the forefront of these shifts stood primarily two soviet historians: M. I. Artamonov and L. N. Gumilev. In the 1950s Artamonov was forced to rewrite a significant part of his almost-finished monography of the Khazar Khaganate under regime pressure. Yet his works on the topic have created a solid ground for further research and strengthened academic interest. In the 1960s Artamonov’s works were followed and further developed by Leningrad's historian L. N. Gumilev. His multidisciplinary approach to the topic brought a significant amount of new although controversial conclusions. Like Artamonov, Gumilev focused his research on the Kazahrs' alleged state religion – Judaism. However, his radical revision far surpassed Artamonov’s conclusions and soon met significant response especially in the intellectual milieu of the new wave of Russian nationalists. Gumilev's contact with Russian nationalists was marked by many problematic aspects. Although Gumilev never fully aligned himself with Russian nationalists, this relation was significantly affected by the political change of the official regime. In the 1970s Russian nationalists lost the silent support of the regime and soon faced significant restrictions. I argue that those restrictions negatively affected Gumilev's academic career as well. At that time Gumilev faced strong censorship of his texts and his revisionist articles focused on the Khazaria were eventually published posthumously only in 1993.
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