Africa: «The Rainbow Period» and Unfulfilled Hopes. Interview with Apollon Davidson, Academician of RAS

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Academician Apollon B. Davidson is an outstanding Soviet and Russian expert in African history, British Studies, also known as a specialist in Russian Silver Age literature. He is an author of more than 500 scientific papers, including 11 monographs, most of which are devoted to the new and recent history of the countries of Tropical and South Africa. Graduate of Leningrad State University (1953), Professor (1973), Doctor of Historical Sciences (1971), Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences (2011). Under his leadership, at the Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences a scientific school of African history based on archival documents was created. He prepared more than 30 candidates and doctors of sciences, among famous students - A. Balezin, S. Mazov, I. Filatova, G. Derlugyan. In 2001-2002 two volumes of documents “Russia and Africa” [Davidson 1999] were published under his editorship; the book “USSR and Africa” [Davidson, Mazov, Tsypkin 2002], in 2003 - the volume of documents “Comintern and Africa” [Davidson 2003]. In 2003, a two-volume edition of the documents “South Africa and the Communist International” [Davidson, Filatova, Gorodnov, Johns 2003] was published in London in English, and in 2005-2006 - the fundamental three-volume “History of Africa in Documents” [Davidson 2005-2006]. In 1988, he participated in the South African program at Yale University. In 1991, he lectured for several months at universities in South Africa and worked in the archives of this country. In 1992-1993 he worked at the Rhodes University, in 1994-1998 organized and chaired the Center for Russian Studies at the University of Cape Town. In 1981-1991 he visited Ethiopia, Angola, Lesotho, Botswana and several times - Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. From 1977 to 1991 he participated in the Soviet-American Dartmouth conferences as an expert on Africa. In his interview he talks about the outcome of decolonization for southern Africa, the actual problems of the modern development of the continent, the role of China in Africa, and the Afro-Asianization of the world. Special attention is paid to the problems and prospects of the development of Soviet and Russian African studies and Russian-African relations.

About the authors

D. A. Degterev

RUDN University

Author for correspondence.

V. I. Yurtaev

RUDN University



  1. Balezin, A.S., Filatova, I.I. & Mazov, S.V. (Eds.). (2019). Peace and Peacekeeping in Africa. To the 90th Anniversary of Academician Apollon Davidson. Moscow: Ves’ mir publ. (In Russian).
  2. Davidson, A., Filatova, I., Gorodnov, V. & Johns, Sh. (Eds.). (2003). South Africa and the Communist International: in 2 volumes. London: Frank Cass.
  3. Davidson, A.B. (1998). Cecil Rhodes: Empire Builder. Moscow, Smolensk: Rusich, Olympus publ. (In Russian).
  4. Davidson, A.B. (2008). The World of Nikolai Gumilyov, Poet, Traveler, and Warrior. Moscow: Russkoe slovo publ. (In Russian).
  5. Davidson, A.B. (Eds.). (1999). Russia and Africa. Documents and Materials. 18th century — 1960. Vol. 1—2. Moscow: Institute of World History, RAS publ. (In Russian).
  6. Davidson, A.B. (Eds.). (2003). Comintern and Africa: Documents. St. Petersburg: Aletheia publ. (In Russian).
  7. Davidson, A.B. (Eds.). (2003). Formation of African Studies in URSS, 1920s — early 1960s. Moscow: Institute for African Studies, RAS publ. (In Russian).
  8. Davidson, A.B. (Eds.). (2005–2006). Documentary History of Africa (1870—2000): in 3 volumes. Moscow: Nauka publ. (In Russian).
  9. Davidson, A.B. (Eds.). (2019). Africa in the Fate of Russia, Russia in the Fate of Africa. Moscow: ROSSPEN publ. (In Russian).
  10. Davidson, A.B., Mazov, S.V. & Tsypkin, G.V. (2002). USSR and Africa. 1918–1960. A Documented History of Relationships. Moscow: Institute of World History, RAS publ. (In Russian).
  11. Davidson, B. & Fyfe, C. (Eds.). (1976). African Studies Since 1945: A Tribute to Basil Davidson: Proceedings of a Seminar in Honor of Basil Davidson’s Sixtieth Birthday. London: Longman.
  12. Filatova, I., Davidson, A. (2013). The Hidden Thread. Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers.
  13. Filatova, I.I. & Davidson, A.B. (2012). Russia and South Africa: Building Bridges. Moscow: HSE Publishing House. (In Russian).
  14. Filatova, I.I. & Davidson, A.B. (2016). AnOther Africa? (Post-)Koloniale Afrikaimaginationen im russischen, polnischen und deuschen Kontext. Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag Winter. (In German).
  15. Kartachova, L. (2011). Madagascar and Me. Moscow: Ekon-Inform publ. (In Russian).
  16. Svanidze, A.A. (Eds.). (2003). The Second Muse of the Historian. Unexplored Pages of Russian Culture of the Twentieth Century. Moscow: Nauka publ. (In Russian).

Copyright (c) 2020 Degterev D.A., Yurtaev V.I.

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