This article fits in the historiography of Bashkir history. The author points out the difficulties to explain Bashkir revolts, peasant colonisation, nomads’ participation in the pugachevshchina, or the territorial autonomy obtained in 1919, on the basis of the formational approach which dominated both Soviet and post-Soviet historiographies. According to the author the civilisation approach is more efficient in explaining that the Bashkirs, as a “closed society” (K. Popper), could escape the “forced modernisation” of early-eighteenth-century Russia. Any attempt of “opening” was nothing but a threat for Bashkir society. The author establishes a firm distinction between the Bashkir and Cossack movements, and endeavours to demonstrate that the defence by the Bashkirs of their traditional society on a regional scale passed through resistance to a Russian “westernisation” that was to break its evolutional development and civilization identity.