chapter  7
14 Pages

Ethnogenesis

As is well-known, Gustaf Kossinna (1858-1931) believed that there are laws of culture that mirror the laws of biology, that the boundaries of material culture coincide with ethnic boundaries, and that archaeology is a legitimate means by which to settle territorial disputes. These views-‘contradictory, odious, and tempting’ (Klejn 2008b: 236)—presented an obvious attraction to the Nazis. Less well-known is that Kossinna’s ideas had enormous in uence in the post-war Soviet Union. As Klejn explains:

Like the Soviet archaeologists of the time [the 1950s and 1960s], Kossinna was not only a migrationist, he was an autochthonist in respect of his Germans and a migrationist otherwise. Soviet archaeologists did the same, only for them Slavs or their predecessors took the place of Germans. Childe was accepted in the USSR essentially alongside Kossinna, as his associate. Kossinna, however, entered covertly. We shunned referring to him: he had to be execrated. Childe, though, was accepted legitimately. (Klejn 2012: 165)

Against this background-and given his own interest in problems of ethnogenesis ( at both a particular and a general level)—Klejn’s interest in Kossinna is unsurprising.