Hybrid Forms in Russian Cultural Space: Practices and Styles of «Neofolk» Movement

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Dachgeschoss (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Tatiana GAVRILYUK, Tyumen State Oil and Gas University, Russia
Purpose of this research was to study the Slavic neofolk movement as a form of youth solidarity, which unites the fans of folk music dealing with reconstruction of ethnic cultural forms in apparel, external attributes, symbols, rituals, gaming practices. Both global tendencies and specifics of modern Russian sociocultural space were taken into consideration. The empirical base includes the data of ethnographical observations at various events on Russian neofolk scenes, in-depth interviews with the participants and qualitative analysis of thematic communities on the Internet.

It was found that Slavic neofolk culture as a part of city space is the "imagined community", constituted with different kinds of subcultural associations with moving boundaries, changing membership and fragmented identity of its representatives. The results let us reveal the contradictoriness of the subject area, which seems to display a conservative turn of Russian culture (in such traits as longing for metanarrative, focus on the leader, opposition for the mobile “transcultural” layer of society, desire for hegemony versus the ideas of tolerance and multiculturalism), but includes the features of postmodernity as well (self-reference, commercialization, virtualization, theatricality, kitsch, transgression).

"Neofolk" is a sign system of the second order, built on the top of authentic ethnic subculture, so we are not dealing with the revival of traditional practices, rituals and artistic forms, but with their imitation and an attempt to reconstruct. This phenomenon requires a conceptualization in terms of continuous formation, as hybrid, decentered, self-referential and mobile network structure formed within ties of individuals, objects and ideas. Searching of sustained hierarchy of values, designing myths which could legitimate group actions, neofolk culture doesn’t lead to desired equilibrium, creating, on the contrary, an eclectic mix of different cultural elements. The hidden risks such as politicization, ethnic and national superiority ideas, religious intolerance give us the issues for further research.