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Yuri Slezkine Edit Profile

historian , linguist , translator , university professor

Yuri Slezkine, Russian history professor. Pew grantee Wake Forest University, 1990; Postdoctoral fellow Social Science Research Council, 1990, Foreign Language and Area Studies fellow University Texas, 1988-1989, University fellow University Texas, 1987-1988. Fellow American Academy Arts and Sciences; member American History Association (progressive committee, 1995), American Association Advancement Slavic Studies (board directors).


Slezkine, Yuri was born on February 7, 1956 in Moscow. Came to United States, 1983. Son of Lev Y. and Karma M. (Goldstein) Slezkine.


Bachelor, Master of Arts, Moscow State University, 1978. Doctor of Philosophy, University Texas, 1989.


He is a professor of Russian history and Director of the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known as the author of the book The Jewish Century (2004). He originally trained as an interpreter in Moscow State University.

His first trip outside the Soviet Union was in the late 1970s when he found work as a translator in Mozambique. He returned to Moscow to serve as a translator of Portuguese, and spent 1982 in Lisbon before emigrating to Austin, Texas the next year. He is currently a W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Slezkine characterizes the Jews (alongside other groups such as the Armenians, overseas Chinese, Gypsies) as a Mercurian people "specializ exclusively in providing services to the surrounding food-producing societies," which he characterizes as Apollonians. This division is, according to him, recurring in pre-20th century societies. With the exception of the Gypsies, these "Mercurian peoples" have all enjoyed great socioeconomic success relative to the average among their hosts, and have all, without exception, attracted hostility and resentment.

A recurring pattern of the relationship between Apollonians and Mercurian people is that the social representation of each group by the other is symmetrical, for instance Mercurians see Apollonians as brutes while Apollonians see Mercurians as effeminate. Mercurians develop a culture of "purity" and "national myths" to cultivate their separation from the Apollonians, which allows them to provide international services (intermediaries, diplomacy) or services that are taboo for the local Apollonian culture (linked to death, magic, sexuality or banking).



Slezkine develops this thesis by arguing that the Jews, the most successful of these Mercurian peoples, have increasingly influenced the course and nature of Western societies, particularly during the early and middle periods of Soviet Communism, and that modernity can be seen as a transformation of Apollonians into Mercurians.


Fellow American Academy Arts and Sciences. Member American History Association (progressive committee, 1995), American Association Advancement Slavic Studies (board directors).


Married Lisa C. Little, November 21, 1984. 1 child, Peter A.

Lev Y. Slezkine

Karma M. (Goldstein) Slezkine

Lisa C. Little

Peter A. Slezkine