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New book by Victor A.Shnirelman 'The Myth of the Khazars: Ideology of Political Radicalism in Russia and its Roots'

Victor A.Shnirelman

Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

The Myth of the Khazars:

Ideology of Political Radicalism in Russia and its Roots

Moscow: Bridges of Culture – Gesharim, 2012. 312 pp.

The Khazar myth provides the old myth of Jewish conspiracy with new, seemingly powerful arguments, as well as a justification for Russia’s leading role in the struggle against this mortal threat. This view of the past is manifested in several ways. It was developed in the early 1950s by some patriotic archaeologists who tried to prove that the Khazar Empire was just a “parasite state." In the 1970s the Khazar myth became an integral part of Russian chauvinist science-fiction and belles-lettres, and was used by activists of the Russian nationalist movement in their struggle against "World Zionism." The historian Lev Gumilev made a special contribution to this development by depicting Khazaria as a “chimera" whose goal was to exploit mercilessly the subjugated Slavic population. The Khazars or their most active segment were indiscriminately identified with the Jews.

The author analyzes how and why the "Khazar issue" was treated in Soviet and post-Soviet historiography, belles-lettres, the mass media, and textbooks, and how this issue is related to antisemitic discourse. Science fiction and belles-lettres are especially important in this respect since Neo-Nazi trends manifested by this literature have become prominent and have contributed to preparing the ground for "scientific antisemitism" in contemporary Russia. The "Khazar issue" and its implications are also examined as they are featured in ideological discussions of contemporary Russian chauvinist political movements. For this purpose, articles in contemporary Russian nationalist periodicals are considered. Actually this study demonstrates an importance of an analysis of various texts (books, magazines, newspapers) and comparative studies of historiography, which usually have a low prophile in studies of the contemporary Russian antisemitism.

Ethnocentric myth-building is analyzed in terms of its content and meaning, social and ethno-political context, its producers and their strategies. The book demonstrates how the "Khazar myth" is embedded into antisemitic discourse and related to the idea of a "Judeo-Mason plot." It also illuminates major differences between various factions within the Russian nationalism in their attitude and interpretation of the “Khazar episode”. Finally, the author argues that the “Khazars” turned to be a euphemism which is commonly used by those Russian antisemites who would like to avoid being accused for antisemitism.


Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. The Khazar Kaganate

Chapter 3. The Khazars Enter the Russian-Jewish Dialogue

Chapter 4. The Khazars in the Early Soviet Discourse

Chapter 5. The Artamonov Affair

Chapter 6. Lev Gumilev and the "Khazar Chimera"

Chapter 7. The "Anti-Khazarism" of Contemporary Russian Nationalists

7.1 The Neo-Eurasians

7.2 The Russian Orthodox Fundamentalists

7.3 The Neo-pagans

7.4 A Theory of the "Khazar Disaster"

7.5 Combined concepts

Chapter 8. The Khazars in Soviet and post-Soviet Textbooks and Belles-lettres



Chapter 9. The Kazars and Politics

Chapter 10. The Khazars in Ukrainian Historiography

Chapter 11. Conclusion: The "Khazars" as a Euphemism



One can order the book through or Ozon.

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