Start page

Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

Personal web site


Ethno-Producing Areas

Certain parts of the Earth's surface together with their inhabitants are visibly determined by nature to form political wholes. Its space is separated from the rest of the Earth by great rivers, seas, inaccessible mountains.

Fichte, Johann Gottlieb. 1945/1946, 480.

The graphic-analytical method is based on the assumption that there is an inverse relationship between the number of mutual features in the language pair and the distance between the areas where these languages were formed.

The newest interdisciplinary research on the osculation of humanities and natural sciences put under the theoretical base for the application of the study by means of the graphic-analytical method. The impulse to the new approach to such research was given by the work of B. B. Mandelbrot “The Fractal Geometry of Nature” (MANDELBROT B. B, 1982.) which the author has introduced in scientific employment the category of the fractal. This term characterizes a geometrical figure composed of parts that are similar to this figure itself. Using the category of the fractal in synergetic natural systems, Czech scientist Radan Květ substantiates the theory of four joined nets in the nature:

- the net of geological fault lines;

- the hydrological net;

- the net of prehistoric paths;

- the information net.

The essence of this theory is such. The faults of Earth's crust and especially the fault zones with inclination from the highest points to the sea level conditioned the configuration of the hydrological net of water streams. Mainly on the first benches along rivers, footpaths were put by man absolutely unintentionally, and the net of prehistoric paths was simultaneously the primary information net. This net promoted the widening of technological experience, world-view ideas, artistic tastes, etc (KVĚT R., 1998, 43, KVĚT RADAN. 2000,294.) It is clear that new words corresponding to new conceptions were widened together with the widening of experiences and ideas. However one has to bear in mind that the hydrological net is very discrete and water streams can as assist to human intercourse as preventing this. Little rivers and footpaths along them form local areas of human intercourse which can be limited by the large rivers as hard to overcome obstacles for the widening of new information. Thus human communities joined by a common language (dialect) and common cultural tradition arose in certain such areas. The geographical peculiarities of these areas resulted that the making of new ethnic communities that can eventuate in them more than once. Therefore they can be called the ethno-producing areas. However, the primary ethnic communities arising in the ethno-prodicing areas did not lose the intercourse with such adjacent ones, though the information exchange ran less intensive than inside the area. While the uprising of ethnic consciousness, conditioned by the feeling of the difference in languages and cultures of primary ethnic communities, the process of their separation already goes knowingly when people on the opposed bank of the river are perceived as other or strange ones. The river itself becomes not only a natural frontier but also a psychological boundary between ethnic communities. Having in mind the fractal construction of Earth’s surface, one can purpose that the totality of the next ethnic communities may differ from another such totality to a more large degree as ethnic communities inside totality. It is clear that natural frontiers can be not only large rives but also mountain chains, big forests, swamps, etc.

Making out primeval ethnic communities is impossible without the self-perceiving of such community by its members. However, this self-perceiving is impossible without a common language. The role of geographic environment in making the primeval ethnic communities was emphasized already in 1940 by Jaromír Korčak:

Tribal belonging is a basic and objective characteristic of people as it contains full geographic and genetic interconnection. A social organization that leads to a common language and culture arises only in this interconnection… It is obvious that people's originality is impossible to hold without a peculiar soul atmosphere communicated by their own language.(JAROMÍR KORČAK, 1940, 6.)

Primary ethnic communities were based on blood ties, i.e. consisted of people of common origin and aware of this. A feature of these communities was the absence of social stratification in them, which contributed to the formation of a unified culture in which social and ethnic specificities coincided [CHEBOKSAROV N.N., CHEBOKSAROVA I.A. 1985: 70).

Tribe arises from a consolidation of primary communities with a tendency towards endogamy(BROMLEY Y.V., 1986, 431). This trend contributes to the fact that some anthropological features are consolidated and spread in individual tribes. In one area there can be one or several tribes that make up one ethnic community. The geographical features of the areas (mainly natural boundaries) determine the unification of individual ethnic centers into a single community with pronounced linguistic, cultural, and social characteristics. As has happened many times in history, ethnic communities increase in number over time and leave their ancestral areas, migrating in search of new places convenient for living. However, usually part of the inhabitants remains in the old place and subsequently merge with the newly arrived population. Newcomers borrow elements of culture and language from indigenous peoples, and this is how a new ethnos is formed in the same natural conditions. With a repeated change in the population of areas, such a process can occur every time, therefore, such areas can be called ethno-producing.

However, the primary ethnic groups that arise in the ethnoforming areas do not avoid communication with similar neighbors, although the exchange of information is no longer as intense as inside the area. With the emergence of ethnic identity, due to the feeling of differences in the languages ​​and culture of the primary ethnic groups, the process of their separation is consciously taking place when people on the opposite bank of a large river are perceived as different or alien. At the same time, the river itself becomes not only a natural but also a psychological boundary between ethnic groups. As V. Evsyukov notes, in ancient human notions water space "is thought of as the magical boundary between worlds, the boundary between the transitory and the eternal, life, death and immortality" (YEVSIUKOV V.V. 1988: 47). Usually, in the ancient worldview, own kin is considered as an embodiment of only positive, the other – of all negative. In addition, different kin with their own customs and culture is often identified with the other world. Hence the motive of the water barrier separating "this" world from "that" (ibid, 1988, 54).

It goes without saying that natural obstacles can be not only big rivers, but also mountain ranges, forests, swamps, and the like. The assumption of the existence of natural boundaries between individual ethnic groups is natural and has long been perceived by scientists. For example, Telegin wrote that “natural frontiers (rivers, mountains, frontiers of landscape zones) often and for a long time served as boundaries for the settlement of certain ethnic groups”. (TELEGIN D.Y. 1968: 21). The importance of the existence of inter-ethnic boundaries was caused by the need to regulate the use of the territory. Referring to J. Balandier, L. Kubbel argues that such a need existed “even in the very early stages of the history of human society” (KUBBEL L.E. 1982: 126). One can easily agree with this statement if we recall the existence in the biology of the designated boundaries of settlements of individuals and groups of higher mammals (bear, wolf, etc.), as well as of certain species of birds. In the period of the transition of man to a productive economy, the role of these boundaries becomes more and more important. This became especially noticeable when human communities with different types of management were neighbors and representatives of productive and unproductive economies came into contact. And the more the importance of organizing the territory grew in cases where different communities used the same ecological niche. “Moreover, just in these cases the limiting role of natural frontiers was especially clearly manifested” (ibid.: 127).

Rivers are often the boundaries of archaeological cultures, although not always sufficiently clear. Sometimes we meet facts when material items of the same culture can be found along both banks of the river. Obviously, in such cases, we are confronted with the phenomenon of the ethnic membrane. When the formation of dialects has gone so far that their speakers begin to identify themselves as a separate ethnic unit with their own language and spiritual world, then natural obstacles already play the role of boundaries between ethnic groups no longer on their own, but as people-conscious boundaries between settlements. According to S. Arutyunov, such ethnic boundaries cannot be impenetrable, however, like a membrane, such a boundary can be permeable for some bonds and impermeable for others, it can be permeable in one direction and impermeable in the second (osmosis phenomenon). He gives an example of Khanty-Nenets relations. Marriage ties, movement of individuals and entire groups, and mutual assimilation of entire kins are bilateral, while the ethnic boundary remains fairly stable. (ARUTYUNOV S.A. 1982: 77).

When researching the ethnogenetic processes of prehistoric times by the graph-analytical method, it turned out that languages of different origins were formed in the basin of the Middle and Upper Dnieper in the same areas several times (see the map below). The existence of such a phenomenon led to the search for a theoretical justification for it, which was briefly described above. The found peculiarity of such areas gives grounds to call them ethno-producing.

Map of Ethno-producing areas in Eastern Europe illustrating alternation of substratum influences.
At different times parent languages were separated into dialects which later developed into individual languages in the same areas. Prent-day names of people were given to their ancestors. The number on areas corresponds to such periods: 1. Uprising Indo-European languages 2. The uprising of Germanic and Iranian languages. 3. Formation of Slavic languages. 4. East Slavic tribes at the time of Kiev Rus'.

This sequence of settlement of this territory, among other things, is confirmed by language substratum of ethno-forming areas, when some words of the previous population are perceived by new aliens.

Other clusters of ethno-producing areas are located between the Dnieper and the Don, the Don and the Volga, as well as in the Amur basin. Their existence is a kind of empirical generalization, which, according to Vernadsky, "does not differ from the scientifically established fact" (VERNADSKY V.I. 2004, § 15).

Lev Gumilyov argued that ethnos is a phenomenon of the Earth's biosphere. Such an intuitive understanding of the essence of the ethтos did not find convincing evidence in his work (GUMILYOV L.N. 1979). The existence of ethno-producing areas well illustrates the opinion of the Russian scientist, although it fundamentally contradicts his idea of the nature of the influence of geographical conditions on the socio-economic and cultural development of peoples.

The formation of such areas was due to geological processes. In particular, the river network was the result of geological faults on the earth's surface. Thus, the formation of ethnic units is not accidental but a natural process, determined by the geological history of the Earth.

Further, these processes become more complex, and language loses its importance for ethnic identification; instead, the influence on the processes of ethnogenesis transfers to socio-political formations and religion. However, ethnic units formed in prehistoric times determine the development of peoples in new historical conditions.

The liberal ideology prevailing in our time proclaims the highest values of the rights and freedom of the individual. However, an individual may be indifferent to the collective interests of people united on the basis of a wide variety of attributes and ideas shared by them, the more he is indifferent to the problems of humanity as a whole as a disordered collection of various individuals. Such an ideology poses a threat to human civilization and, having provided for such a possibility, the Creator purposefully shaped the surface of the Earth using geological processes to shape human society as a collection of ethnic units. This shows the idea of structuring, which is laid down in the design of any complex system. The proposed topic can be seen as a prelude to my more extensive paper "The Crisis of the Liberal Humanism."