Year

2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of History and Politics - Faculty of Arts

Abstract

Anatolii Fomenko is a distinguished Russian mathematician turned popular history writer. He is the founder of New Chronology, part of the explosion of pseudo-history that has emerged in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Among his more startling claims are that the Old Testament was written after the New Testament, that Russia is older than Greece and Rome and that the medieval Mongol Empire was in fact a Slav-Turk world empire, a Russian Horde, to which Western and Eastern powers paid tribute. Fomenko takes inspiration from Mikhail Lomonosov, Russia�s most celebrated eighteenth century scientist and self-taught patriotic historian. Lomonosov was a layman in matters of history, who was given to patriotic excess but whose account of the past fell within the bounds of what is usually considered to be history. The same is not true of Fomenko whose account of the past is as fantastic as it is popular. The question of this thesis is why such accounts of the past are written and, more importantly, read in post-Communist Russia. I conclude that Fomenkos version of the past is popular because he finds in history a simple and usable answer to the question of who the Russians are. Fomenko taps into existing Russian notions of identity, specifically the widespread belief in the positive qualities of empire and the special mission of Russia. He has drawn upon previous attempts to establish a Russian identity, ranging from Slavophilism through Stalinism to Eurasianism. Fomenkos account of the past speaks to the Russian present, which, in the absence of Ukraine and Belarus, is much more firmly placed at the centre of the Eurasian land-mass than it was under the Tsars or Communists. While fantastic, Fomenkos pseudo-history strikes many Russian readers as no less legitimate than the lies and distortions peddled not just by Communist propagandists but also by tsarist historians and church chroniclers.

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