Lev Ilich Mechnikov
Mechnikov, Lev Il’ich
Born May 18 (30), 1838, in St. Petersburg; died’June 18 (30), 1888, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Russian geographer and sociologist. Brother of E. Mechnikoff.
Mechnikov was expelled from the University of Kharkov in 1856 for participating in the revolutionary student movement. In 1860 he fought in the national liberation struggle of the Italian people. He contributed to A. I. Herzen’s Kolokol and, with N. P. Ogarev and N. A. Shevelev, published Geography for the People in Geneva in 1868. After teaching Russian at the University of Tokyo from 1874 to 1876, he worked with E. Reclus on the Universal Geography: The Earth and People. He published a study of Japan in 1881 and held the chair of comparative geography and statistics at the Neuchatel Academy in Switzerland from 1883 to 1888. In 1889, Mechnikov’s Civilization and the Great Historic Rivers was published; it appeared in Russian translation in 1898 and was reissued in 1924. In this work he presented a “geographic theory of progress and social development,” ignoring the mode of production and exaggerating the influence of the natural environment on the history of human society.